Though Jimmy Graham has until April 22 to file a claim about his franchise tag designation as a tight end rather than as a receiver, that doesn't mean the Saints are in a hurry to sign their star to a long-term contract ASAP.
At least one recent report stated that the team would try to complete a deal before that April 22 deadline, but Saints general manager Mickey Loomis says he has other ideas.
“Look, I'm always optimistic. But there's no deadline here,” he said, via ESPN.com.
"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."
There is also the question of whether Graham actually will appeal the Saints decision to tag him as a tight end rather than as a receiver, especially considering he's lined up so much as a receiver in the past and that the difference in pay for one season is about $5.3 million.
"That is a byproduct of a little bit of an antiquated system with regards to franchise numbers," coach Sean Payton said recently. ... "All of them, including ourselves, we're anxious to get [a Graham contract] done. And he's an important part of what we do."
All of it means that it's been a murky offseason for Graham. Except, of course, that he can no longer dunk after touchdowns and that he won't have his former teammate Darren Sproles in the New Orleans locker room.
This was Graham's reaction to that last part about a month ago.
Wow unbelievable. Shocked and disappointed on everything that's gone on this offseason.— Jimmy Graham (@TheJimmyGraham) March 8, 2014
But for now, there's not much for Graham to do, other than to sit and wait and let his representatives strike a deal for what likely will be the largest tight end contract in history. It's also worth noting that if a long-term deal isn't done by July 15, Graham would have to play under the franchise tag.
"We'll just keep plugging away at the process," Loomis said. "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.”