led the NFL with 16 touchdown receptions last season. (Al Tielemans/SI)
New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has until the league's April 22 deadline to file a grievance over the team's decision to slap him with the franchise tag as a tight end, but that doesn't have the Saints feeling any pressure to get a long-term deal in place.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis denied that the team will be pushing to reach a long-term extension before the deadline; however, he shared some optimism that the two sides will eventually reach a deal.
“Look, I’m always optimistic. But there’s no deadline here,” Loomis said, via ESPN.com.
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Loomis was asked by the media how the fans should feel about Graham's future with the team with contract discussions seemingly at a stalemate, and he promised that the two sides will continue to work towards a deal but there needs to be equal work from everyone involved.
“I don’t have an answer for that,” Loomis said. “That’s a two-way street. You know, you guys [in the media] have been through this lots of times. I think all of us would rather have things done sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t always happen that way. So we’ll keep going, we'll keep at it in the process. Obviously we want to have Jimmy Graham on our team when training camp begins, and I am sure he wants to be with us.
“So we’ll just keep plugging away at the process. He’s got a great agent. And all his people, they know what they’re doing, and so do we. Hopefully we’ll come to a conclusion at some point.”
If Graham signs his current franchise tender, he would get $7.035 million for the 2014 season. However, if Graham were to file a grievance to have his tag changed to the figure designated for wide receivers, he would earn $12.312 million.
It will be interesting to see how everything plays out on the Graham front, but regardless of what tender he signs, it appears that he remains in line for an extension that would make him the highest-paid tight end in the league -- an honor he completely deserves.
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