An arbitrator recently deemed Jimmy Graham a tight end for franchise tag purposes. However, in New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees' view, how Graham is designated doesn't encapsulate how he's changed the way the position is played.
"It doesn't really matter," Brees told CanalStreetChronicles.com last week about Graham being a tight end. "At the end of the day, Jimmy Graham has revolutionized the position. He's a guy who is so talented at so many things you know and obviously he's a big part of our offense and I hope that they're able to reach a long-term agreement here sooner than later."
We fully expect Graham to get the largest tight end contract in NFL history. Other tight ends jumpstarted the evolution of the position -- Shannon Sharpe, Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates are recent examples -- and Graham is a byproduct of the current pass-heavy league. However, Graham's production and recent arbitration have certainly altered how we differentiate and discuss pass-catching tight ends.
Brees said he is "anxious and hopeful" Graham and the Saints will agree to a long-term deal prior to the July 15th deadline. NFL Media's Albert Breer noted last week that the Saints anticipate an agreement with Graham "right before" the clock strikes midnight.
"I was in somewhat of a similar position two years ago, so I get it. I understand how this goes, but he knows that all of his teammates are behind him and hoping that he's able to get what he deserves and then rejoin the team as quickly as possible," Brees said.