Everybody thinks the New Orleans Saints big off-season story will be Jimmy Graham’s contract negotiations. They’re right, it will be a big story. But let me spare you the drama and tell you exactly what’s going to happen …
History Repeats Itself
What’s going to happen is the same thing that happened with Drew Brees’s contract in 2012. Which is to say, both camps will drag this thing out as long as possible. Why? Because it’s great publicity for both Jimmy Graham and the Saints. There’s no downside to dragging it out. The longer this stays in the news, the more important it seems, the more exposure Graham gets, and the more media coverage the Saints get. If they wrap up the contract in February, it will be long forgotten by March. If they drag it out through June, that’s 4 extra months of Graham’s name periodically in the news.
The Dotted Line
Big statement contracts in the NFL are just fun and games. The larger the deal is (and the more the media covers it), the more important the player and the contract become; the greater the bragging rights. Even though in the NFL it often doesn’t matter in the long-term what the terms of the deal are. A team can release you from your contract whenever they feel like it, or ask you to restructure it.
The Saints will hit Graham with the franchise tag, but whether it’s a TE tag or a WR tag is only window dressing, a sideshow. The debate on whether he is a tight end or wide receiver (he’s a tight end, IMO) is interesting from a football perspective, but meaningless from a practical perspective. The Saints will definitely sign Graham to a long-term contract, rendering the tag moot.
Just like with Brees’s contract negotiation, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear in the coming months that the two sides have not been communicating for long stretches at a time. This is not because they can’t come to an agreement, it’s because the agreement is already settled. They’re just biding their time. The longer they wait, the longer the story stays fresh, with an oh-so-dramatic, breathless, last-minute agreement before the deadline! Whew, that was close, Saints fans!
No, it wasn’t close; it was settled months ago.
So … don’t sweat this contract, Who Dats! The Saints will sign Graham, he’ll be happy, and Mickey Loomis will be a hero for working magic in the offseason again.