The Saints haven’t had tight end Jimmy Graham at any of their offseason activities as he’s remained away from the team pending the resolution of his franchise tag grievance or agreement on a long-term deal with the team, but chances are good that they will have him on the field by the time the regular season gets underway.
Graham’s teammates haven’t been sweating his absence, which likely has something to do with quarterback Drew Brees also missing an offseason a couple of years ago while embroiled in his own contract impasse. Brees signed a deal in time for the season and the Saints offense didn’t look too thrown once he was back in the mix. Brees is confident that the same will be true this year and that holds even if Graham’s absence drags into the regular season.
“Look at our numbers over the last eight years,” Brees said, via Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “We’ve had a lot of different guys in there. Jimmy’s only been here four years. He’s only been here half the time. We were putting up some pretty big numbers before he got here, and we’ve been putting up some big numbers since he’s been here. Hey, we do what we do. It’s nice when you can have guys like Jimmy, and obviously he’s a big part of our offense. If he’s in there, we’re going to try to get him the ball. We’re game-planning ways to get him the ball, ways to put him in the best position to succeed. But if he’s not, somebody else is going to get those touches. We’ll put those guys in position.”
With Darren Sproles and Lance Moore also gone, an extended absence for Graham would lead to a lot of scrambling for the New Orleans offense, but it’s probably safe to say that the only loss that Brees’ absence would be the only one that would make them question their ability to succeed on offense.