Saints tight end Benjamin Watson, who is atop the depth chart as long as Jimmy Graham remains unsigned, says Graham has learned a valuable lesson this offseason: Even if your team appreciates the work you do, they’ll fight as hard as they can to pay you as little as they can.
Asked about Saints coach Sean Payton testifying against Graham at an arbitration hearing, Watson said that’s just the way management handles contract negotiations.
“Welcome to the business side of football,” Watson told ESPN. “And a lot of times we don’t see this part because rarely does a situation make it all the way to arbitration. But that’s the business side of football. And it’s kind of no different than a contract situation where there’s a heated discussion over contracts, things are said back and forth. And in the end both sides are able to amicably move on and back to the business of football once there’s an agreement in place. But I’m with you. I was thinking much the same thing when I heard that Coach Payton was having to testify, and I don’t know if he was testifying on his own accord or was being forced to, and I also don’t know what conversations he’s had with Jimmy since then and where their relationship stands. But I do know that if and when Jimmy makes it back, and hopefully sooner than later, things will be smoothed over and we’ll get to trying to play Saints football and winning championships.”
The best-case scenario for the Saints is that they can reach an agreement on a long-term contract with Graham. If Graham ends up playing this season on the tight end franchise tag, he may wait until after training camp to report, and he may be disgruntled by his experiences with the business of football.