The New Orleans Saints and Jimmy Graham have agreed to a four-year, $40 million deal. It includes $21 million guaranteed. It is the richest contract for a tight end in the history of the NFL.
Simply put, there was no way the team could afford to lose Graham. New Orleans did win the arbitration hearing last week that designated him a tight end, instead of a receiver. It is possible that a lack of a new contract could have left harsh feelings on both sides. Any animosity is now a distant memory.
Graham is the biggest cog in the Saints machine. His ability to stretch the field and size have created countless mismatches. Drew Brees can almost always count on him to come through in the clutch. The other receivers get more opportunities to make plays because he can stretch the defense and can keep the secondary occupied.
Graham is the best tight end in football hands down. He is also 27 years old and entering his prime. Brees is entering the last years of his career and the window for the Saints to compete for a Super Bowl may be closing. Jimmy helps keep that door open a bit longer.
The receivers on the Saints include Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills. It is a good mix of youth and experience. Graham’s presence makes it the best group in the NFC South.
There are questions regarding all four teams in this division. Can the Atlanta Falcons rebound from a disastrous 2013? Can the Carolina Panthers overcome losses on defense and at the skill positions? Is Tampa Bay ready to take the next step under Lovie Smith?
I think that the Saints are the most complete team in this division. They should be the favorites. Graham was the biggest question surrounding the team. Would he come back and would everything be the same? New Orleans answered with a resounding yes.
Jimmy Graham is back where he belongs and ready to soar to new heights in 2014.
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