As the Saints and tight end Jimmy Graham continue to not have a long-term deal in place, the question becomes when the next real deadline applies for either side.
The next real deadline applies on or about April 22, when Graham must file a grievance regarding his designation as a tight end for franchise tag purposes.
Per a league source, the current expectation is that the Saints and Graham will finalize a long-term contract before Graham pulls the pin on a grievance grenade.
Once Graham files a grievance, the process will take on a life of its own, with more than $5 million turning on whether Graham lined up more as a receiver or a tight end for franchise tag purposes. At that point, Graham has nothing to lose by letting it ride — especially once the process becomes adversarial in an industry where the bright line of winning and losing looms over everything else.
Graham can make a strong case for consideration as a receiver for tag purposes. The Saints can make a compelling case, too, but they surely have no desire to draw battle lines with one of their best players. That’s why it makes plenty of sense to resolve the situation before it can take a potentially ugly turn.