On the last day for working out a long-term deal between the Saints and tight end Jimmy Graham, the Saints and Jimmy Graham worked out a long-term deal.
Throughout the offseason, the expectation existed that Graham and the Saints would work something out. That there was already too much money on the table for Graham to walk away and carry the injury risk for another year.
The Saints knew that. Which, as best we could tell in recent days, was causing the Saints to resist moving from their pending offer that would pay Graham $9.5 million per year on average.
Emboldening the Saints may have been the stream of messages from Graham’s camp that they were going through the motions, waiting to take the best offer but not really inclined to aggressively try to improve it. For example, Graham and company waited until nearly the last minute to file an appeal of the arbitration decision that made him a tight end for franchise-tag purposes, with a delayed stutter-step on Monday creating the impression that Graham delivered the paperwork not with a slam dunk over the goal post but by tiptoeing on eggshells.
That’s not the way to get the Saints to pay more. As a result, the final hours of negotiations may have been less about getting more and more about trying to get the Saints to shift around the money in a way that will create the impression that the 11th-hour talks actually made the package a little better.
Unless Graham convinced the Saints that he was prepared to suddenly act in a manner contrary to every message he had been sending, chances are that the contract Graham accepted won’t be much better than the deal that has been on the table for months. We won’t know that until we get our hands on the numbers.
The longer it takes to get the numbers, the more likely the Saints didn’t really improve their offer much, if at all.