After the Saints applied the non-exclusive franchise tender to tight end* Jimmy Graham, he received no interest from a team that could have signed Graham to an offer sheet, ultimately giving the Saints two first-round draft picks if the Saints opted not to match the offer.
After the 2014 draft, when the two first-round picks would have come from the 2015 and 2016 drafts, Graham again received no interest.
Now that an arbitrator has found that Graham is a tight end for franchise-tag purposes, taking $5.3 million from Graham’s pocket for 2014, Graham could be willing to listen — if a team is willing to make a run at him.
While some teams have pondered the possibility in the past of trying to sign Graham, there’s no evidence that anyone plans to actually do it. Based on the language of the labor deal, which seems to suggest at Article 10, Section 15(a) that another team can sign a contract with “a Club” as late as the Tuesday after the 10th Sunday of the regular season, another team apparently could pursue Graham after the July 15 deadline for signing a long-term deal with the Saints.
Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report claimed earlier today that a “good half dozen teams” are plotting runs at Graham. Every team can do it, with the exception of the Bills, which traded their 2015 first-round pick to the Browns. We’ve heard of none that actually will, or that even might try to land a guy who will have missed the entire offseason program preceding his first year with a new team.
If anyone actually does it, a franchise with a need at the position that expects to pick low in the first round next year (e.g., the Packers) and/or an NFC South team whose Hall of Fame tight end has retired (i.e., the Falcons) would make sense. Still, if anyone is planning to give it a shot, the cards are being pressed tightly against the vest on this one.
Soon, that could change, especially if/when Graham says or does anything that suggests he’d consider signing an offer sheet elsewhere.