Jimmy Graham, Saints millions apart on new contract


Nobody expects the New Orleans Saints to let Jimmy Graham reach free agency, but negotiations between the tight end and his team remain complex.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that no meaningful progress has been made, according to a source briefed of the talks. The sides are still millions apart annually. The deadlock continued Wednesday, Rapoport reported.

As mentioned in our franchise-tag primer, if no deal is struck, look for Graham to be tagged as a tight end -- projected for 2014 at $6.8 million -- despite his high percentage of snaps in the slot and out wide as a receiver. If that happens, we fully expect Graham to file a grievance in an effort to get wideout money, projected at $11.6 million.

FoxSports.com's Mike Garafolo noted Tuesday that New Orleans is willing to pay Graham more than Rob Gronkowski's $9 million per year, but that's a far cry from what a tagged receiver will make.

And there's this issue: Graham doesn't believe he's a tight end, at least not in terms of his pay grade. (NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport points out that clubs don't make the position designation when they apply the franchise tag.) If the sides can't agree to a new deal before March 3, the tag most certainly will be applied -- and the battle will ensue.

On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys talk about the Jim Harbaugh drama in San Francisco and discuss who made the most striking impression at the NFL Scouting Combine.