Saints TE Jimmy Graham signs four-year deal for $40M

SUN HERALDJuly 15, 2014 

NEW ORLEANS -- Four years. Forty million.

Tight end or not, Jimmy Graham is once again, a New Orleans Saint.

Graham, one of the NFL's top playmakers, agreed to terms early Tuesday morning with the Saints, ending months of disagreement, arbitration, appeals and potential bad blood.

"It's official ... I'm bleeding black and gold this morning! Thank you WhoDatNation for all the support," Graham wrote Tuesday morning on Twitter.

His contract reportedly includes $21 million guaranteed.

Graham, whom the Saints selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, was aiming for a salary which would make him one of the top paid receivers in the league. After all, more than half of his plays in 2013 occurred out wide or in the slot -- away from the line of scrimmage.

But neither the Saints nor last month's arbitrator agreed, limiting Graham's options. He and the Saints had until Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT to agree to a deal. If not, Graham would have been forced to play under the franchise tag or play or sit out the 2014 season.

"We are very excited to have this contract done," Mickey Loomis, general manager of the Saints, said in a statement. "We appreciate the hard work and professionalism that Jimmy Graham and his agent Jimmy Sexton have exhibited during this process. We are all looking forward to Jimmy's continued success on the field as we pursue a championship together."

Graham's additional upgrades the Saints offense from average to one of the best in the NFL. Last season, Graham caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns, which put him in position to become the league's highest-paid tight end.

The former college basketball player who played one year of football at Miami, was the Saints' third-round draft choice in 2010.

In his second season, Graham caught 99 passes for 1,310 yards. That total stood briefly as a yards receiving record for tight ends. That same day the mark was broken on the final day of that season by New England's Rob Gronkowski, who finished with 1,327.

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