Through three games, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has 358 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
But Graham still doesn’t have a new contract. Per multiple league sources, the Saints have made an offer. Graham’s camp has not yet responded.
Graham has entered the final season of his slotted rookie deal. Drafted the same year as Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, both of whom received long-term extensions, Graham is still waiting.
He may have to wait a little longer. Or a lot longer. Last year, the Saints waited as long as possible to sign quarterback Drew Brees to a multi-year deal, after he took every snap of a six-year, $60 million contract.
Brees got his deal after the Saints applied the exclusive version of the quarterback franchise tag. Graham undoubtedly will get the non-exclusive version of the tight end franchise tag, setting the stage for an inevitable fight regarding whether Graham is a tight end or a receiver.
Meanwhile, look for Graham to continue to take the high road. Though he has earned the ability not to carry the risk of serious injury, the Saints have shown that they won’t pay close to market value until the player has maximum leverage.
If Graham stays healthy, he’ll have it — especially if he prevails on the question of whether he’s a receiver for franchise tag purposes.