The New Orleans Saints disappointed in 2012, but with their head coach Sean Payton back in the fold, things will be different for sure. However, the Saints production on the field might not be as important as what they decide to do off of the field. Just like Drew Brees‘ contract was a distraction this time last year, tight end Jimmy Graham is heading into training camp without a contract past 2013.
Graham has solidified himself as one of the best tight ends in the game with 20 touchdowns in the last two seasons. His ability to get open in the end-zone helped Brees get his money last offseason. The Saints have been searching for a play-making tight end and they have definitely found one in Graham. However, the nature of the beast is that the Saints simply can’t have Graham play for free and he will demand a pretty penny on the open market.
The fact that the St. Louis Rams gave Jared Cook $38.5 million has to be discouraging to a Saints team that has had trouble staying underneath the NFL salary cap. Cook is half of the player that Graham is, so do not be surprised if the Saints are forced to give him the kitchen sink. With so much money invested in Brees you have to wonder if New Orleans has the funds to make Graham the richest tight end in the game. If the Saints don’t pull the trigger someone will as teams like the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are carrying a lot of money into next offseason and could use a weapon like Graham.
Unlike both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the Saints tight end has been able to stay healthy missing just two games in his three-year NFL career. As the regular season nears keep an eye on what the club decides to do with the All-Pro.