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Graham gets a real $10 million a year

Graham Getty Images

When Jimmy Graham and the Saints initially announced that they had agreed on a new contract, we wanted to see what the real numbers were, as the headline numbers in NFL contracts are often inflated. Now we’ve seen the real numbers. So we’ll pass them on to you.

For starters, Graham really does get $10 million a year over four years if he plays out the full contract. Sometimes when a nice round number like “$10 million a year” gets floated in the immediate aftermath of a signing, that’s an inflated figure based on some fluff in the contract that won’t actually be earned, but Graham’s $10 million a year is real.

Graham’s signing bonus is $12 million and his total guarantee is $20.9 million. Graham would get $21 million if he only plays two years of the deal and $30 million if he plays three years of the deal.

In 2014 Graham gets a base salary of $1 million guaranteed in addition to that $12 million signing bonus. His cap number is $4 million — less than he would have counted against the Saints’ cap if he had signed the franchise tender.

In 2015 Graham gets a base salary of $2.9 million guaranteed, a roster bonus of $5 million due on the third day of the league year and a workout bonus of $100,000. His cap number is $11 million.

In 2016 Graham gets a base salary of $8.9 million and a workout bonus of $100,000. His cap number is $12 million.

In 2017 Graham gets a base salary of $7.9 million, a roster bonus of $2 million if he’s on the team on the third day of the league year and a workout bonus of $100,000. His cap number is $13 million.

If Graham plays out the full contract, without renegotiating or extending or getting released, he’ll be a free agent in March of 2018. At which point the Saints could franchise him. And we’ll all obsess over whether Graham lined up for most of his 2017 snaps within four yards of an offensive tackle.

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32 Responses to “Graham gets a real $10 million a year”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 17, 2014 3:08 PM

    So what’s to stop him from taking the big signing bonus and holding out again later? If he’s bitter about this whole saga then has he given the team reassurances that the next 4 years he’s going to remain totally hunky-dory? What happens if he gets 150 catches next year, at what point is it understood that the team is going to pay him more money to go along with the new statistical production level. Cause those kind of numbers would make the higher paid WRs look like categorical chopped liver.

  2. samapoc says: Jul 17, 2014 3:10 PM

    Love that Graham didn’t talk to the media about this. He just kept going quietly until a deal was done.

  3. mdd913 says: Jul 17, 2014 3:14 PM

    Why would he be bitter? If he was that bitter he would’ve refused to sign a long term deal. People want to dream up reasons to hate on the Saints, but the truth is they’re one of the best run organizations in football,they treat their players and fans exceedingly well, and sometimes business is just business.

  4. numba1wiscosportsfan says: Jul 17, 2014 3:19 PM

    my guy Graham crackerz

  5. redandgoldhitman52 says: Jul 17, 2014 3:19 PM

    how many td’s, how many yards, how many catches did this elite unstoppable force we know as jimmy get versus the seahawks in the playoffs?

  6. bigjdve says: Jul 17, 2014 3:25 PM

    The reality is that both sides used the tools that were at their disposal.

    While people may or may not like one side or the other, both sides were within their rights.

    After things played out, they got a deal in place, and both sides are happy.

    And this situation didn’t get nearly as acrimonious as it could’ve been.

  7. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 17, 2014 3:27 PM

    He could be bitter if he feels like he got screwed on the decision and had no choice but to take a lesser deal than what he truly deserves. What I think or anybody else thinks about the money is irrelevant to what Graham thinks about it. He might feel that the team used shady and inappropriate measures to tax him unfairly and he could be looking to make up for that. In his mind he could see this deal as just a temporary band-aid to regroup and make a new case for more new money before this contract expires.

  8. selliott504 says: Jul 17, 2014 3:27 PM

    Just glad this is all behind us and we can play some football!

  9. jbcommonsense says: Jul 17, 2014 3:28 PM

    Graham is the best TE ever, and changed the nature of the position. I’m a fan of another team, just glad he is getting a well-deserved deal… in another division….

  10. floriofollies says: Jul 17, 2014 3:29 PM

    “they treat their players and fans exceedingly well”

    Yes, like stringing along their franchise QB’s extension to the very last second (instead of extending him a year or two before that deal was up). And trying not to pay him the most guaranteed money despite him coming off a record year.

    No, franchises that treat their players well re-sign their cornerstone QBs before their contracts are up (see Cutler, Rodgers, Brady, etc deals). The Saints pinch pennies and wait til the last second

  11. msc4realeagles says: Jul 17, 2014 3:36 PM

    I don’t know if I give Graham “best ever” just yet. He did get blanked (zero catches) in New England last year with Aqib Talib on him. I wonder if his numbers wouldn’t be different if a longish corner was on him every game. Just sayin.

  12. mdd913 says: Jul 17, 2014 3:40 PM

    …..like I said, dreaming up reasons to hate. The supposedly “penny pinching” Saints continue to have one of the highest payrolls in football, as they have for years. They currently have a safety on the roster who is paralyzed. And Benson not all that long ago donated 5 million to fighting ALS. Reconcile that for me please.

  13. scrummymustard says: Jul 17, 2014 3:40 PM

    When 2018 comes, the percentage of plays will not matter. The Saints will most likely not be tagging him and he will be a true UFA.

    The franchise tag # will be the greater of the TE tag, or 120% of the previous year’s (2017) cap hit.

    So with a 2017 cap hit of $13 million, the 2018 TE tag will be $15.6 million.

    Man am I sick of doing your guy’s job.

  14. mdd913 says: Jul 17, 2014 3:44 PM

    Graham is certainly not the best TE ever. Maybe the most dynamic pass-catching TE ever, I’d say that’s probably true.

    His supposed “struggles” against cornerbacks are mainly just a result of him playing against Talib. Not everyone is Talib. Besides if you’re continually putting your best corner on him, that just means Colston, Stills, Cooks, Meachem, etc. is getting 1-on-1 coverage with a linebacker.

  15. kkalama1 says: Jul 17, 2014 3:50 PM

    He’s just gonna want a new deal in 2 seasons anyway

  16. darthsaint says: Jul 17, 2014 3:56 PM

    StrategyExpert…is your name an oxymoron for what you are in reality? Cause I’d be hard pressed to believe you are an expert on very much beyond creating “what if” scenarios for a team you probably don’t like.

    If you’ve paid attention, Graham is extremely happy with his new deal. As this article just pointed out. He actually GOT the full value of his contract. It isn’t a BS contract like so many. Remember Vick signing for 100 million. You think he got even half that amount…nope.

    Did the Seahawks scheme against him…sure they did. Did Graham still have the best stats for a TE for the year…yes, not even close. Has he been extremely consistent and if anything, getting better each year while being the best, yes he has. Do Saints fans expect him to show up next time they face the Seahawks, of course.

    My argument is that one, that Seattle defense is great. But two, sometimes you just don’t have a great game.

    Case in point:
    Against the worst defense in the league last year and in history, the Dallas Cowboys, who can’t stop a thing from racking up yards and scoring TD’s.
    Graham – 5 catches – 59 yards – 0 TDs. That there is very pedestrian stats for such a dominate player.

    Clearly, some weeks no matter how good you are, you just don’t have a great game. Couple that going against a great defense and it complicates the situation. But to then make some conclusion that the player is no good or not deserving of the accolades they receive…it borderline stupidity.

    Under your argument…you should be talking about how great the Dallas Cowboys defense was that game right? Clearly they stopped Graham. Only issue is that the Saints won that game 49-17. The Saints had an NFL-record 40 first downs and a franchise-record 625 total yards. They just did it without Graham making a difference.

    Same game, Saints vs Seahawks last year. Russell Wilson was 9-18 for 103 yards and 0 TDs. I don’t remember anyone pointing out what a horrible game that was or how dominate the Saints defense was. Point is, the winner of a game gets the glory, they get the write history. All I’m saying is be careful before you believe too much of your own BS. Otherwise you’ll be the one cursing your TV as Graham racks up the stats on your team.

  17. nawlinssaints1956 says: Jul 17, 2014 4:07 PM

    Time for football, so all the Saints haters can give it a rest. Ya’ll might want to focus on your own squad’s potential for 2014; the Saints will be just fine…

  18. boisestatewhodat says: Jul 17, 2014 4:16 PM

    Mickey Loomis is a baaaaddd man! Saints will be dominant!! They generally have been for 8 or 9 seasons now….say what you want about my Saints but one thing that is apparent, even to the haters, this team has by far the most talented front office in football. Mickey Loomis is an extraordinarily smart GM.

    See yall in Arizona!

  19. boisestatewhodat says: Jul 17, 2014 4:19 PM

    Oh, almost forgot…example: when Loomis got the $10M/year deal done with Graham…he also created $4-5M in cap space…we’ll sign one more skill position before its said and done. Saints will go 14-2.

  20. sbc85 says: Jul 17, 2014 4:23 PM

    The Saints and Tom Benson being cheap is a myth easily dispelled by facts. The Saints made Drew Brees the highest paid player in the NFL at the time of his deal. They made Jahri Evans the highest paid guard in 2010 a few years back. They made Jairus Byrd the highest paid safety (for two minutes until Earl Thomas got his deal). And now they’ve made Jimmy Graham the highest paid TE in NFL history. Not sure how to reconcile that with the Saints “pinching pennies.”

  21. sbc85 says: Jul 17, 2014 4:27 PM

    I forgot to include how they also made Sean Payton the highest paid coach. Cheapskates…

  22. brokebackbrees says: Jul 17, 2014 4:54 PM

    Not actually 10 million. Closer to 9.5 after he pays his 5% for new and improved bounty program.

  23. boisestatewhodat says: Jul 17, 2014 5:06 PM

    Saints 42…Falcons 9…week 1 outcome!

  24. boisestatewhodat says: Jul 17, 2014 5:08 PM

    ‘I can’t believe what I’m seeing right here…this is not detroit, this is the super bowl man!’

    Paul Allen, 2010

    Welcome back ole brokeback

    XLIV CHAMPS!

  25. blatphar says: Jul 17, 2014 5:40 PM

    Sure, the Saints made Brees and Graham the highest paid at their position. However, they always wait until the very last minute to pay these guys. The smart teams reward their best players before they become unrestricted FA’s and ultimately save money. The players like Brees and Graham hate it cuz they have to worry about getting injured and playing the last yr of a deal in which they’re grossly underpaid. That’s why they’re considered cheap!

  26. thetooloftools says: Jul 17, 2014 6:29 PM

    Cha Ching ! I guess tight ends can make QB $.

  27. redskins21lakers24 says: Jul 17, 2014 7:05 PM

    If he want’s to be paid like a WR make him play WR not TE, he’s another peyton manning, he dominates the regular season and disappears during the playoffs!

  28. ilovefoolsball says: Jul 17, 2014 7:12 PM

    All of the seahawk and patriot fans looooove to proudly proclaim that they shut Graham down for those two games last year.

    Well bravo.
    Would you like a cookie? Go ahead, take one, you’ve earned it.
    No, not that one, the one with sprinkles on it.
    There you go.

    I’ll take a guy who can be an absolute beast for 13 games out of a season. No player is dominant for every single game.

  29. kcflake says: Jul 17, 2014 7:45 PM

    Brandin Cooks will be the saints top offensive weapon in short order. I wish my chiefs. Had got a. Chance to take him.

  30. juliusanonymous says: Jul 17, 2014 8:01 PM

    The actual deal was $12m/yr, but he saw Kam Chancellor running at him and gave up on the last $2m.

  31. jpspear says: Jul 18, 2014 1:48 PM

    Brokeback it’s real easy. All you have to do is to name a single player that Goodell proved was injured by the BountyFarce program, or a Saints player he proved got money for injuring a player, or even an amount. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

    Favre? Wrong. Favre said he had no problem with how the Saints played in that playoff game. You got nothing. Warner? Wrong again. There’s nothing there. Not a single play. About 3000 defensive plays, all on video, and Goodell couldn’t come up with a single one. 50,000 pages of evidence and not a single verifiable incident of intentional injury. So either name a player or stop embarassing yourself.

  32. jpspear says: Jul 18, 2014 2:00 PM

    Blatphar, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Not every player lives up to their contract and while it may cost some money to some it allows them to let others go before making a bad investment. How smart was it to sign Logan Mankins to big money? Not a disaster but hardly worth what they’re paying him. How has this worked out for the Redskins? Being able to evaluate talent is just as important a factor.
    The Saints tried to sign Brees and Graham earlier. I can’t speak to what they offered, but it’s not always the team’s fault.

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