NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - 27-year-old Jimmy Graham has become one of the most explosive weapons for Saints veteran quarterback Drew Brees.
On Tuesday morning after tweeting that he's bleeding black and gold and thanked WhoDatNation for all the support, Graham has become the highest paid tight end in NFL history, a four-year, $40 million deal with $21 million guaranteed.
The Saints placed the franchise tag on Graham on February 28, 2014. The franchise tag for a tight end is $7 million while that of a wide receiver would have been $12 million.
The NFLPA filed a grievance on behalf of Graham, claiming he should have received the $12 million wide receiver tag instead of the tight end tag. That was in May.
On July 2, an arbitrator ruled that Graham is a tight end and on Monday of this week the NFLPA filed an appeal on Graham's behalf to a three person panel challenging the arbitrators ruling.
On Tuesday the Saints and Graham came to an agreement, working through the night to complete the new deal.
Last season Graham grabbed 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was almost unstoppable until Seattle unveiled an aggressive defense against Graham and his stats fell off.
You can bet, whatever the Seahawks did defensively against Graham, other NFL teams will try to emulate Seattle's approach. However, most teams don't have the defensive talent that the Seahawks have.
Graham, a former basketball player at the University of Miami, has become the body build that other NFL teams are going to follow. Tall, rangy and sure-handed players who can catch the ball, by using their height advantage against smaller defensive players and someone who is difficult to bring down.
With Graham in the fold, the New Orleans Saints will once again present a challenge to most defenses in the NFL. Quarterback Drew Brees, his offensive line, a crop of new receivers and running backs and the return of Graham, will provide an arsenal of weapons that can score from any place on the field.
Head coach Sean Payton and his coaching staff filled the gaps defensively last season and with a couple of new additions to the unit, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan should have New Orleans back in the hunt.
The 2014 Saints could be the most talented-team ever in New Orleans and yes that includes the 2009 Super Bowl Champion Saints.