That’s the biggest contract for a tight end in the history of the NFL. New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is the second highest, averaging $9,000,000 per year. The third highest is Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten, who averages $7,400,000. And the difference is even bigger when you look at guaranteed money.
Witten’s contract actually guaranteed him more than Gronkowski ($13,532,000 and $13,170,000, respectively). So, Graham will average about $1 million more per year and almost $8,000,000 more guaranteed than the next two tight ends.
And that’s just the tight ends! One of the disagreements between Graham and the Saints was whether he should be paid like a tight end or a wide receiver. The outcome? Both.
As I detailed above, he’s the highest paid tight end; but he would also be tied for the 7th highest paid wide receiver (with Brandon Marshall) in the league.
Only six wide receivers earn more per season than Graham will under his new contract. Those names: Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, and Vincent Jackson. There are even fewer receivers with more guaranteed money: Johnson, Fitzgerald, Wallace, Jackson. Both measures put Graham easily in the top 10 highest-paid receivers.
In four years, Graham has 301 receptions for 3,863 yards and 41 touchdowns. So an elite pass-catcher is getting paid like other elite pass-catchers? Sounds good to me.