Jimmy Graham and the New Orleans Saints reportedly have come to terms on a four-year, $40 million contract, just ahead of Tuesday’s franchise tag deadline. Had the deal not been struck by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, Graham would have had no real choice but to sign his tag tender for the 2014 season before broaching free agency again next summer.
The new contract gives Graham the highest average salary at his position, surpassing the $9 million-per-year commitment made to Rob Gronkowski by the Patriots in 2012. While he is the highest paid tight end in the NFL, that could change soon, because there are three more tight ends that busted on the scene last year who will need a new contract very soon.
Last year the Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron sure looked like the NFL’s next great tight end last season as he caught 80 balls for more than 900 yards. He could play an even larger role in the 2014 Cleveland offense, what with Josh Gordon likely gone for the entire season.
Julius Thomas is due a new contract in 2015 and after last year’s amazing year, where he hauled in 12 scoring tosses from Peyton Manning despite missing a pair of games, he will be due a huge pay day. While Thomas’ 788 yards fell well shy of Graham’s and Cameron’s, he still ignited the Broncos offense. He will get paid.
Vernon Davis is currently holding out of the 49ers mini camp because he wants a new contract, and remains among the top handful of tight ends in the NFL. He deserves a pay raise because last year he scored 13-touchdowns and was rewarded with a Pro Bowl berth. He will likely be the next tight end to get a contract, but I expect the price to go up soon.