Kristian: Saints hold the leverage over Graham
After last week's ruling by system arbitrator Stephen Burbank, the Saints not only claimed a small victory, but also a ton of leverage where negotiations with Jimmy Graham are concerned. Graham flat-out stands to lose too much money if he doesn't work out a long term deal before the July 15th deadline. The Saints hold the cards in this one, as is the case with most contract negotiations. The case is simple and the contract is not difficult for the Saints or Graham.
I fully expect a deal to be in place with Graham and the Saints on or before July 15th. Pay particular attention to the first three years of the deal. The magic number(s) for the Graham and the Saints are $10 million per season average with $28-30 million in guaranteed money over the first three years. The upfront money is what Graham and the Saints ultimately care about.
READ MORE: Doug Sunseri: Graham will be content to get fat with Saints
When I say the Saints hold the leverage, it doesn't mean Graham doesn't hold any leverage. He knows the price range that is market value, and if the Saints don't make him an offer in that range, then his best option is to hold off on a deal and drive the price up. The closer it gets to the deadline, the better it is for the Saints.
On July 16th, another episode of "Saints Contract Saga" will end happily ever after!