If the Saints are going to hammer out a long term deal with "tight end" Jimmy Graham, they only have until July 15 to do it. That deadline might be less than 10 days, but there's at least one person in the organization who's confident a deal will get done: Drew Brees.
The day after an arbitrator ruled against Graham, the Saints quarterback was asked if he was confident that a deal would get done between the two sides.
"Yeah I am," Brees told CanalStreetChronicles.com.
Although Brees did add that he's a little anxious about the deal. "I know the opportunity to reach a long-term agreement goes until July 15th, so we've got a couple of weeks here, but you know I'm anxious and hopeful that it'll happen," Brees said.
If anyone understands Graham's situation, it's Brees. The Saints quarterback had his own arbitration hearing in 2012 after the Saints placed the franchise tag on him. The arbitrator ruled in Brees' favor, saying that the Saints could only tag the quarterback one more time because of a 2005 tag Brees was hit with while he was in San Diego.
When asked about the Graham ruling, Brees wouldn't say if he agreed or disagreed with it, "It doesn't really matter."
Brees has already said once this offseason that he believes Graham plays a 'hybrid' position that combines wideout with a tight end. Brees also added this week that Graham has 'revolutionized' what a tight end is.
"Jimmy Graham has revolutionized the position," Brees said. "He's a guy who is so talented at so many things you know and obviously he's a big part of our offense and I hope that they're able to reach a long-term agreement here sooner than later. At the end of the day, this is part of the process and I think we all understand that."
In 2012, Brees eventually hammered out a long-term deal with the Saints on July 13, two days before the deadline.
"I was in somewhat of a similar position two years ago, so I get it," Brees said. "I understand how this goes, but he knows that all of his teammates are behind him and hoping that he's able to get what he deserves and then rejoin the team as quickly as possible."
The question is, what does Graham deserve? The Saints have a $9.5 million-a-year offer on the table that would make him the league's highest-paid tight end. Apparently he wants more though because he hasn't signed the deal.
Our Will Brinson thinks the Saints should offer a little more and 'bump up Graham's contract to $20 million guaranteed over the course of a five-year deal and give him $45.5 million over the life of the contract.'
Whatever Graham and the Saints decide to do, the clock is ticking. If the two sides don't reach a long-term deal, Graham can either play 2014 under the franchise number of $7.035 million or sit out the season.