The New Orleans Saints caught a huge break last week at what looked like the expense of tight end Jimmy Graham. The All-Pro was challenging the Saints' use of the franchise tag on him and that he deserved to be tagged as a receiver.
The NFL Players Association had filed a grievance on behalf of Graham in May arguing that he deserved to be designated as a wide receiver under the franchise tag, but Arbitrator Stephen Burbank ruled in favor of the Saints, meaning they would have to pay him just $7 million instead of $11 million.
It turns out it won't matter, as the two sides have reached and agreement to make him the NFL's highest-paid tight end.
Saints are signing TE Jimmy Graham to a 4-year, $40 million deal that includes $21 million guaranteed, per source familiar with deal.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 15, 2014
It's official I'm bleeding black and gold this morning! Thank you WhoDatNation for all the support.— Jimmy Graham (@TheJimmyGraham) July 15, 2014
So @TheJimmyGraham breaks news ...sources say Saints & TE have agreement in principle but contract language still being worked on.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) July 15, 2014
On Monday, the Saints and representatives for Graham were closing in on a long-term deal that would bring his franchise tag saga to a close.
The Saints and Graham had been unable to work out an agreement this offseason because of Graham's argument is that he should be considered a receiver because he lined up either in the slot or out wide 67 percent of the time last season. thankfully, ti won't matter, as the two sides were able to bridge the gap in negotiations enough to reach a new deal.
In four seasons, Graham has been one of the best pass catchers at any position, catching 301 passes for 3,863 yards and 41 touchdowns.