by Paul "Closer" Wanecski
What is in the water in New Orleans? One of the most dynamic players at the tight end position, Jimmy Graham has some staggering stats going into the 2014 off season. Check out the breakdown of this truly remarkable talent.
A Man's Worth: The Number is 47.
A player finds many ways into the NFL. Some common, like the NFL draft, or uncommon, like being signed away from the CFL, or, better yet, being undrafted. No General Manager uses only one of those outlets. Signing undrafted free agents, combing the world for a freakish athlete who could excel in football, no barriers hold back scouts from finding the next big thing. However, the great thing about the NFL is that the draft puts a value to a player. It tells them the value 32 teams thought that player had. The same can be said for a player’s contract. The number 47 is equal to the number of active Tight Ends who are currently paid more that Jimmy Graham.
Lets Talk Cash: $12.5 Million Dollars
Let’s play a game. How many ways can you get the Saints under the Salary Cap? $12.5 million dollars is the amount the New Orleans Saints are said to be over the salary cap for 2014. That is without resigning Jimmy Graham, who is subject to either an extension, free agency, or a franchise tag, allowing the Saints to retain him without offering more than a top level 1 year contract. You may be saying goodbye to left tackle Will Smith, who if cut will save 11.5 in salary cap. That only gets you near even. Cutting players like Cornerback Jabari Greer (saving 3.175 million), Wide Receiver Lance Moore (saving 2.5 million), Pierre Thomas (saving 2.9 million), and perhaps finding a trade partner for Darren Sproles (who counts as 3.5 million against the salary cap this year) all could be casualties to the Jimmy Graham Saga. Those moves alone bring you to a savings of 23.575 million dollars.
Coming out of the University of Miami, Jimmy Graham was seen as a project. With speed and length, most General Mangers knew he had physical skills, however, with only limited game film nearly all would agree that he was going to command an lot of attention in the offseason. A lot of fans will say “Jimmy Graham was a 3rd round pick, how could you let a guy like that slip?” Very easily. Most forget that Jimmy had only 17 receptions in his senior year. The number 94 are the number of players drafted prior to Jimmy Graham
Show Me the Money: $4.5 Million Dollars
How do you classify a player like Graham, who has caught over 85 passes in 3 of his 4 years as a professional? He is rarely used as a primary blocker. Tight Ends last season would have a Franchise Tag number of $6.6 million dollars. The ultimate question however, is Graham truly a Tight End? In Article 10, Section 9 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the “position above at which he participated in the most plays during the prior league year” is the determining factor. Graham played 774 plays. It hasn’t been determined if he lined up as a Wide Receiver for a majority of those plays, however, if it is determined that he qualifies to be paid as a Wide Receiver he will make an estimated additional $4.5 million dollars, which is the difference between the Franchise Tag for a Tight End versus a Wide Receiver.