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Sean Payton on Jimmy Graham: Franchise-tag system is 'antiquated'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

More NFL offseason: Mock Drafts | Prospect Rankings | Pro Days | Top free agents

ORLANDO -- The Saints are in a stalemate with tight end Jimmy Graham, who wants a new contract but has been given the franchise tag. And there's a stalemate within the stalemate as Graham's not even happy about being tagged as a tight end.

Asked about Graham wanting more money than the tight end franchise tag offers, Sean Payton didn't entirely disagree, calling the tag setup "an antiquated system."

"That is a byproduct of a little bit of an antiquated system with regards to franchise numbers," Payton said. "I think those will be over the years revisited and adjusted."

Payton's 100 percent spot on here. It's silly that Graham, who is best classified as a "pass catcher" is given a designation that assigns tight end worth to his salary. (It's also ridiculous that all offensive linemen fall under one designation, and it's completely asinine that a pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker gets the same tag as a middle linebacker.)

Whatever the case, the Saints have to get Graham a deal. And Payton believe that the tight end's situation is "very similar" to that of Drew Brees, who received a huge deal from New Orleans after hanging in franchise-tag limbo for several months.

"It's hard to put a timetable on it," Payton said of Graham's deal. "[It's] very similar to Drew's. I think all of us felt it's not a matter of if but when."

That's good news for Graham, good news for Brees and good news for the fans, who -- like the Saints -- can best be described as "anxious."

"All of them, including ourselves, we're anxious to get it done," Payton said. "And he's an important part of what we do."

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