To no one’s surprise, tight end Jimmy Graham has not joined his Saints teammates at the team’s offseason workouts.
Graham hasn’t signed his franchise tender and would like to negotiate a long-term contract with the Saints before the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to do so. Absent a contract, there’s not much chance that he’ll be joining the team before that date and that’s just fine with tackle Zach Strief.
Strief said that the team isn’t affected by Graham’s absence now because so much offseason work is focused on improving yourself and that his teammates understand that this is just how the business side plays out for a player in Graham’s position.
“Look, I think all of us understand and I think it’s the hardest thing to understand from the outside. It is a business. Neither side is right, neither side is wrong. It just is what it is. I think that everyone knows that the first game of the season, Jimmy will be there and be ready to go,” Strief said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “That’s all you really want at the end of the day. You forget all of a sudden that he wasn’t there for OTAs and all of those other things. Hopefully they get something done for Jimmy’s sake, for the team’s sake. I think it’s best for everybody and they all agree with that. But we’ll see how it plays out.”
The Saints went through something similar with quarterback Drew Brees a couple of years ago, so there shouldn’t be any panic about how things will play out over the next couple of months. As Strief said, Graham will almost certainly be there when the games start and that’s when the Saints will need him the most.