Last month, Mike Florio reported that the expectation was that the Saints and Jimmy Graham would reach agreement on a new contract before the April 22 deadline for Graham to file a grievance arguing that he should be franchise tagged as a wide receiver instead of as a tight end.
Coach Sean Payton said he though Florio “hit the nail on the head” during a subsequent interview on PFT Live, although there’s some confusion about whether or not that deadline applies to Graham. Florio discussed that on Wednesday’s PFT Live, a clip of which you can find below, and General Manager Mickey Loomis said Wednesday that the team does not view the April 22 date as a deadline for getting a long-term deal done.
Whenever a grievance must be filed, the Saints still have a July 15 deadline to sign Graham to a multi-year deal before the only options would be for Graham to play out the year under the tag or sit out the season. Loomis said he’s “optimistic” that a deal with Graham will get done, but he didn’t give any indication about when that might happen.
“I don’t have an answer for that,” Loomis said, via ESPN.com. “That’s a two-way street. You know, you guys [in the media] have been through this lots of times. I think all of us would rather have things done sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t always happen that way. So we’ll keep going, we’ll keep at it in the process. Obviously we want to have Jimmy Graham on our team when training camp begins, and I am sure he wants to be with us. So we’ll just keep plugging away at the process. He’s got a great agent. And all his people, they know what they’re doing, and so do we. Hopefully we’ll come to a conclusion at some point.”
If Graham does file a grievance, there will naturally be some big differences between the sides as they make their cases before an arbitrator and that would likely slow down any negotiations on a longer deal that may be going on. If the deadline for that grievance isn’t a factor, though, there’s plenty of time for the sides to talk before Graham would have to pull the pin on the grenade that he’s got in his arsenal.