Some of the real numbers have begun to bubble up regarding the Jimmy Graham contract. And they look pretty good for a player who would have otherwise made $7 million under the franchise tag in 2014.
Per a source with knowledge of the contract, Graham received $12 million to sign, along with a $1 million base salary for 2014. That’s $13 million in the first year (math!) and a cap number of $4 million.
The rest of the guaranteed money falls into 2015 salary, which is guaranteed for injury only, for now. The $8 million Graham is due to make next year becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2015 waiver period. This means that, as a practical matter, the Saints won’t be cutting Graham before the injury guarantee becomes a full and complete guarantee.
Cutting Graham in the days after the next Super Bowl, more than a month before the start of the new league year, would result in $9 million in cap dollars flowing back to 2014. Which presumably would force the Saints to engage in some contract restructurings on an emergency basis.
Even if the Saints were to cut Graham before the next $8 million becomes fully guaranteed, Graham would get $13 million for one season and then become a free agent well before free agency opens.
So Graham either gets $21 million over two years or $13 million over one and a crack at the open market. Either way, that’s better than $7 million for 2014 — and it’s a lot better than the $4 million or so Graham has earned in four NFL seasons.