Last year, two of the premier tight ends from the 2010 draft got long-term deals. Neither is named Jimmy Graham.
For now, it looks like Graham won’t be getting a new deal this year, either.
Per a league source, the Saints and Graham currently are not talking. And there’s no indication that they will.
In 2012, the Patriots were able to entice tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to take long-term deals that paid much more than what they were due to make over the balance of their four-year rookie deals. And if the Saints had offered such a deal to Graham last year, maybe he would have been inclined to bite.
Now, Graham is a year away from free agency. As he gets closer to completing his rookie deal, Graham will want something closer to market value.
And while the Saints have the luxury of the franchise tag, a fight could be looming over whether Graham should be tagged as a tight end or a receiver. In the end, the level will be determined by where he lines up the majority of the time in 2013.
Regardless of Graham’s official position, it’s easy to argue that he should be paid like a top receiver.