Timing of Graham grievance is curious

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When Saints tight end Jimmy Graham didn’t immediately file a grievance challenging the amount of his franchise tag, it appeared that he didn’t want to inflame the situation pending efforts to work out an acceptable long-term deal.

Ultimately, it appeared that Graham would wait to see whether the Saints sign him to a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline.  Absent a long-term deal, Graham then could have filed his grievance as of July 16.

So why file now?

Apart from the impact the resolution of the grievance may have on negotiations regarding a long-term deal (and if Graham wins he definitely gets more leverage), the move provides the rest of the league with a clear reminder that, after teams use their first-round picks on Thursday night, they can fatten their offseason haul by signing Graham to an offer that, if not matched by the Saints, would cost first-round picks in 2015 and 2016.

For teams with General Managers on the hot seat, signing Graham becomes an intriguing possibility.  If the G.M. won’t be around to use the 2015 and 2016 picks anyway, who cares about sending them to the Saints?  Given that it’s very rare nowadays for General Managers to be fired by one team and then to become General Managers with another team, guys who have those jobs sometimes need to make bold moves to keep those jobs.

Intriguing options include the Texans (who with the right moves in 2014 will be picking a lot lower in 2016), the Browns (who seem to be intent on making a splash, somehow), the Raiders (whose G.M. clearly needs a big year), the Falcons (where snagging Graham from the arch-rivals in New Orleans to replace Tony Gonzalez would send shock waves through the league), the Bills (whose G.M. soon will have a new boss), the Lions (who seem to be intent on finding a Jimmy Graham for new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi), and the Giants (whose G.M. seems to realize that time is running out, and who could use the weapon for Eli Manning).

The challenge would be to craft a deal the Saints wouldn’t be able to match.  Currently, the Saints have $3.4 million in cap space.  Of the team listed above, the Texans have $12.5 million, the Browns have a whopping $29.1 million, the Raiders have $12.7 million, the Falcons have $8.4 million, the Bills have $13.5 million, the Lions have only $1.369 million, and the Giants have $3.9 million.

Teams that easily could pilfer Graham with an offer the Saints couldn’t match include the Bengals ($23.7 million), the Jaguars ($27.2 million), the Dolphins ($16.3 million), the Jets ($23.7 million), and the Eagles ($20.2 million).  Ultimately, the question for those teams becomes whether there’s a reason to give up first-round picks in 2015 and 2016 at a time when none of their General Managers are in obvious (or grave) danger of being fired.

39 responses to “Timing of Graham grievance is curious

  1. The Browns have two firsts this year and still a ton of money left to spend. If they really wanted to make a splash, other than potentially wasting a pick on Manziel, then they should try to sign Graham. Hand over one of your first rounders for this year, and use the other on a no.2 CB or T and count it as next years first rounder. This is a deep draft overall, so it seems to be a good idea IMO.

  2. That’s so greedy, if he wins New Orleans will have to cut his teammates which are supposed to be his brothers. Not cool Graham.

  3. The 3.4 mill in cap space NO has, Grahams franchise $ is part of it meaning if the Saints pulled his franchise offer, they have 3.4 mill + whatever the TE franchise 1yr deal is.

  4. Trade him this garbage is getting old and becoming a distraction…payton has a way of bring out the best in his players…LETS JUST MOVE ON GEESE…robert meachem for example…he left and sucked and wheres he back at

  5. I don’t think any team is willing to give up the 2 1st Rounders to sign that deal, and the Saints would love to save the money and pick up that pair, so much that it might make sense for them to try and trade him now and set their asking price at just below that level depending on what team they are talking to.

    That way if the financial talks don’t go well it could put into perspective what he is worth and help them negotiate a lower price. If he knows he can’t leave and go get paid then he might come around to accepting whatever he can get from the Saints.

    Or if he didn’t want to do a deal and become a FA later, then maybe he will be soured on a few teams that came up way short on financial talks today such that now they don’t seem that appealing to relocate to.

  6. That team better make sure that their road to the Super Bowl wouldn’t possibly go though a game @ Seattle, otherwise they’re just eating his salary AND the cost of his plane ticket so he can stand on the sideline baffled by his own lack of effort.

  7. I’d rather sign some other big basketball player with good hands and rebounding ability as a free agent than begin to even think about trying to trade for, pay, and sacrifice 2 1sts for Jimmy Graham. Sorry. He is good, but c’mon.

  8. And Jimmy was shocked when the Saints parted ways with Vilma, Smith and Sproles to create cap space? Come on Jimmy, you want the Benjamin’s at any cost. Just admit it.

  9. In order for any kind of trade to take place for Graham, you first need a GM who believes that Jimmy can be just as productive as he is in an offense tailored to him and catch as many TDs as he has with Drew Brees delivering the ball.

    How much of Jimmy’s success is due to how the Saints use him and the guy at the QB position?

  10. There is no way Cleveland should even be on that list they have a very young and talented TE think his name is Cameron Jordan? (don’t beat me for not knowing) Also the Loins and Bungals have quality TEs on their roster (granted they are not Jimmy). There is no way they want Jimmy.

    Now I could see a team like Miami or Houston. Atlanta I’d love to get their next 2 years 1st round picks after sending them to top of the draft the next couple of years!

  11. Cross the Eagles off that list. Money to do it or not, they like Zack Ertz too much (and still have Celek, who they love, and Casey on the roster). They aren’t going to give up 2 first round picks for a TE

  12. If I were a GM, I wouldn’t make any move for Graham until I knew his “official” status as a TE or WR. But, when that decision is made, the Saints will most likely sign him and this will all be over.

  13. The problem with the majority, not all but majority, of the teams listed above is that they do not have a good QB to make Graham look as good as Drew makes him look, especially Atlanta.

    But hey I’ll take the deal if your GM is stupid enough to do it.

  14. Other than Brees, the Saints run a system offence. While Graham is an excellent player, no way the Saints pass on two #1s or even two high 1st and 2nds to part company. If they can make a deal, sweeten Ben Watson’s contract and don’t look back.

  15. Everyone is soured over Graham’s playoff appearance at Seattle and the game at New England.
    We’re talking about two games people.

    The dude went off the rest of the season and absolutely dominated many games.
    He has a bright future ahead of him. He’s very good and he’s still so young.

  16. 1: Can’t trade a player that isn’t under contract;
    2. No team is giving up 2 1st round picks;
    3. The designation sets the compensation, the Saints don’t have the option of taking less than 2 #1’s;
    4. Graham played over 10 games with a torn plantar fascia; and,
    5. Saints are winning the Super Bowl this season.

    So ends the lesson for today.

  17. Right and before his deal got done Brees and Payton were headed to Dallas. Plus that 3 mil doesn’t include the 7+ mil his tag cost. And if he leaves, we got two extra 1st rounders? Sign me up.

  18. Granted, Saints are grim, given the gravity of the Graham grievance for the gridiron. They need to get a grip, and not be greedy, which would be easy if they had grabbed Gronk instead of Graham.

  19. Give it up Jimmy. You are a TE

    I don’t care if you line up at the WR position peridically. WR’s never line up next to the tackle so it goes both ways.

  20. File now to hopefully force the Taints hand. They need to pay up or trade him. The best time to get traded is right before or during the draft.

  21. To suggest that the Lions are a possibility is nothing short of ridiculous. Aside from the fact that there’s no way they can afford him they already have a Graham type (size wise) tight end in Fauria. Not saying he’s anywhere close to as good but when you factor in that they also have Pettigrew any thinking person would realize that this just isn’t going to happen.

  22. Here’s how we end this game once and for all. Take Jimmy and line him up against a defensive end and make him try and block him. If Jimmy does it the Saints win. If Jimmy is tossed like a leaf then the Saints have to pay up because he’s a WR.

  23. Good article. It’s Graham’s future at stake and he has the guts to bet on himself. He’s made a fan of me (except when he plays the Steelers this year in Pittsburgh).

  24. If I were the Seahawks I would try and sign him. Giving up your first rounder which is a pittance. Force the Saints to do something with him. Instead of just franchising him. Worst case scenario is they match your offer and you keep your first rounder.

  25. It comes a time when you have to make big decisions and you have to do what is right for the team. If I was the saints to put more salary on my team and to cut this mess out now not saying jimmy is not a beast I get that. But you have to do what you have to do. You get first round picks for jimmy if they are interested and you get some picks for Mark Ingram and get what you need in the draft!!! I am happy with that. It should go that way it is the best and only way to get rid of dead weight and distractions!! Now jimmy is only good with drew brees because simply put if he does go somewhere there is no QB he will suck!! Simple and plain. If I was jimmy I would just play and wait on my contract because if he goes any where else and sucks no one will pick him up!! Now that’s what jimmy has to deal with the team has the upper hand!! This is facts that should happen and will happen if jimmy doesn’t act right.

  26. What the bleep is going on w/ Saints?? Could not believe they let Darren Sproles go. Now Jimmy Graham — the best off player in the NFL? After they wouldn’t give him the $$ he deserved as the best.

    To quote Drew Brees earlier “I know Jimmy Graham will be ready to play, and he’ll be a big part of our offense and a big part of our team for a long time. I’m very confident [contract negotiations] will work out.” They did not, Jimmy was paid as a TE not a WR.

    N.O. is spiraling down out of control making stupid decisions.

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