Kristian: Saints will use Franchise tag on Graham if necessary
Saints front office, coaches, and scouts are in Mobile, Alabama this week looking at the top seniors in the Senior Bowl. Finding new talent is always a top priority for the Saints, but the biggest priority is clearly keeping the top talent already in their building.
Tight End Jimmy Graham is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March, and General Manager Mickey Loomis said the team hasn’t had any discussions with Jimmy Graham's agent “in the last few days, but we have some time.” Time is on the team's side at the moment; typically these deals don’t get done until the 11th hour.
Asked if he was concerned about eventually working out a deal with the big TE, Loomis responded “Look, I’m concerned about it like I’m concerned about any contract with an unrestricted free agent that we would like to have back.” In other words, you never know what can happen, but it’s certainly not time to fret.
Loomis says the organization views Graham purley as a Tight End. “That’s where we play him, in our view he’s a tight end. That’s what makes him valuable.” The position comes into question because of a loophole in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that stipulates a player can not be franchise tagged at TE if he lines up at WR for more than 51% of the offensive snaps.
So what about the possibility of using the franchise tag on Graham if the two sides can’t come to an agreement? “We’ll see... look, it’s way to early to start talking about that business.” However, Loomis did say if it came down to it, the club would use the franchise tag on Graham: “We’re gonna franchise him if that’s necessary. We’re a long ways from that. I don’t know that it’s worth discussing right now.”
The Saints are projected to be $17 million dollars over the 2014 salary cap of $126 million. When you’ve had a good team for period of time like we’ve had, obviously you have good players... you have to pay the going rate to keep them. It doesn’t leave us much room, but yet, we know how to navigate and manage that.” Loomis explained.
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