Jimmy Graham is appealing an arbitrators ruling that the New Orleans Saints can pay him the franchise amount for a tight end, but that may all be a moot point if the two parties can come to an agreement on a lucrative contract extension.
Graham, 27, is scheduled to make $7. 053 million under the tight end designation but is hopeful of being compensated as one of the top receivers in the NFL, and according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Saints are willing to meet his demands and make him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history.
Saints and Jimmy Graham closing in on long-term deal to make him highest-paid TE in NFL history. Now optimism deal done by Tues deadline.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 14, 2014
New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski signed a six-year deal worth $54 million two years into his rookie deal in 2012, so an argument can be made that Gronkowski took a bit of a hometown discount to get the big signing bonus two years away from free agency and Graham could command more than the $9 million he receives annually.
The franchise tag ruling would have been an insult for Graham compared to the money players of his caliber receive and could have resulted in Graham holding out for training camp, or even longer, without a resolution.
If Gronksowski’s deal is the template for the Saints to work with, a deal for six-years and $60 million would seem to be the starting point and a deal that would be considered a win-win for both sides.
Graham is coming off a career-high 16 touchdowns last season when he caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards. His second time in his four-year career when he topped the 1,000-yard plateau. He is a two-time Pro Bowl selection and was a first team All-Pro in 2013.