If the Saints like to do business on a deadline basis, then they love their current situation. By 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the Saints must file and the NFL must approve a long-term deal with tight end Jimmy Graham. If they don’t, Graham will be able to sign only a one-year contract in 2014.
Amid Twitter sightings of both Graham and coach Sean Payton in New Orleans, the fact remains that, regardless of where the principals are located, the time has come to put signatures on a multi-year contract.
Technically, failure to agree to a long-term deal by the close of business on Tuesday would prevent the Saints from signing Graham to a multi-year contract until after the conclusion of the 2014 regular season. As a practical matter, it would push everything back by a year, with the Saints having to decide whether to apply the tag for a second straight year to Graham. If they do, then next July 15 becomes the deadline for signing him to a long-term deal.
It’s unclear whether they’ll actually get something done. The Saints repeatedly have expressed optimism that an agreement will be reached. But there’s no indication that the Saints have moved above the $9.5 million per year offer that has been on the table since before an arbitrator ruled Graham is a tight end for franchise tag purposes.
If the Saints are going to move or if Graham is going to blink and take the current offer, it all needs to happen pretty quickly. Which means that you should be hitting your “F5” button throughout the day to see whether a deal has been struck.