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Nothing free about Graham's free agency - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Nothing free about Graham's free agency

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Metairie, La -

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham heads in to this off-season in a similar situation to Drew Brees a couple of years ago.  Graham is an unrestricted free agent ready to cash in on a huge contract, but also potentially facing a one-year deal with no signing bonus if he gets hit with the team's franchise tag that would keep him from true free agency.

Graham made just $1.3 million in the final year of his rookie contract and stands to make many times that if he can reach a long term deal with the saints or actually sign with another team.

Brees just finished his second season under of one of the richest contracts in NFL history. On July 13, 2011, he signed a five-year deal worth $100 million — less than two years after winning Super Bowl XLIV and the MVP award. The highest paid tight end in the NFL is New England's Rob Gronkowski, who signed a six-year deal for $54 million in 2012. Graham finished No. 1 among NFL tight ends in receiving in 2013 with 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. In 2011, his 99 catches for 1,310 yards ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in NFL history.

"Well, I have to figure out what's going to happen," Graham said after the Saints closed the season with a 23-15 loss at Seattle in the NFC Divisional Playoffs on Saturday. "We'll see. Obviously, this is a great city, a great team. I love Drew Brees. I told them I would like to retire with him. Hopefully, it will happen."

Brees took Graham under his wing during the former University of Miami basketball player's rookie year in 2010, and soon Graham was setting team records.  This season Graham caught 16 touchdown passes, one shy of the NFL single season record for tight ends.

"He's in a great situation," Brees said Monday as players cleaned out their lockers and went their separate ways. "It's an exciting time for him. He's had a great four years as a young player in this league, added a great deal to this team. Now, here he is with the opportunity to sign a nice contract and something that will hopefully carry him through the rest of his career."

 

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