Saints, Graham close to deal to make him highest paid tight end

Special to the Sun HeraldJuly 14, 2014 

The New Orleans Saints are reportedly moving close to a deal which will make Jimmy Graham the NFL's highest paid tight end.

But not before Graham takes one last opportunity to show his disdain for the ruling of arbitrator Stephen Burbank.

According to multiple reports, Graham has appealed the ruling which called him a tight end, not a receiver, a decision which threatens to cost him millions during contract negotiations.

Both sides, though, appear to be in a position to negotiate a long-term deal by Tuesday's deadline of 3 p.m. If not, Graham will be forced to play under the franchise tag or sit out the 2014 season.

Graham has not signed his $7 million franchise tag tender.

Last season, Graham caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Without Graham, the Saints offense, even with Drew Brees, transforms from one of the most dynamic passing attacks in the league to average, placing increased pressure on first-round pick Brandin Cooks to develop faster and second-year pro Kenny Stills to produce more.

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