Jimmy Graham not looking to sign extension just yet
Graham is one of the biggest difference-making pass catchers in the league today, so the Saints obviously want to get him locked up long term. According to league sources, the Saints have made a contract extension offer to Graham, but the Pro Bowl tight end has not responded.
The Saints have shown that they will try to get good financial value out of an impending free agent until the player has enough leverage to pry money out of the organization - quarterback Drew Brees played out his entire six-year deal before the Saints signed him late in the following offseason (7/13/2012).
Fellow tight ends drafted in 2010 Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have both already received contract extensions, but it looks like Graham will be playing out the four-year, $2.455 million deal that he signed as a rookie.
All Graham really needs to do to command a huge contract is stay healthy. We've seen that, when not slowed by injury, Graham is clearly a dominant force on the football field. Through three games, he leads all tight ends in receptions, receiving yards (by nearly 100), and touchdowns. I'd expect him to ask for a better contract than Gronkowski, who signed an eight-year deal worth $55.23 million in 2012.
The Saints will also have the opportunity to use the franchise tag on Graham if the two sides can't iron out a long-term deal. Of course, the application of the franchise tag would likely result in a massive debate, as Graham would claim that he should be tagged as a wide receiver (the franchise tag salary for wide receivers is higher than that of tight ends). The Saints would likely fight the claim, but Graham's case would be tough to beat.
Graham looks to be putting any sort of contract distractions aside for now, and continues to focus on earning a huge deal by putting up colossal numbers. He remains the best tight end in all of fantasy football, and probably in real life football as well.