As the inevitable salary battle between Mickey Loomis and Jimmy Graham gets closer, the inevitable fan and media hand-wringing is in full effect. The Graham story line is both predictable and unfortunate. The NFL off-season is a torrid mix of wobble watching, rumor mongering, accounting minutia, and endless sensationalism (we covered it here), so it makes sense that Graham – the NFL’s biggest free agent this summer – is caught in the media cycle. Is he worth the money? Do the Saints need him? Can the Saints pay him? Should he get wide receiver money or tight end money?
The list, it goes on. We here at B&G are firmly in the Pay Jimmy Now camp and wanted to break down the various anti-arguments for you here. Since it’s the off-season, and none of you want a thoughtful, 2,000 word stat-based essay on the issue, I’ve decided to use visual aids to support my arguments and undermine yours. Enjoy!
Jimmy Graham Is Overrated And Must Be Purged From the Roster.
Just stop it. Don’t you remember his September? You know, the month where he became the first tight end ever to win Offensive Player of the month? You know, when he finished a four game stretch with 27 catches, 458 yards, and 6 touchdowns? Remember how right after that he suffered a partially torn plantar fascia? Now, I know he had some bad games – especially against the best secondary in football – but I think we should cut the guy a break.
2. Hipster Kitty
We’d Be Better Off With 2 First Round Picks Anyway.
I saw this floated out on Twitter a few times, so I wanted to address it directly. There are two types of franchise tags – exclusive and non-exclusive – the former demands a higher paycheck, but the team has…exclusive rights to the player while the latter is cheaper and allows other teams to offer a higher contract to the player and ship two first round picks to the first team.
So the idea that a team will swoop in and give us two first round picks for Jimmy is predicated on the Saints front office taking the cheap way out of the franchise tag. I believe that Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton have no intention of letting Graham walk away, so this is almost a moot point, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume we slap Graham with the non-exclusive tag. There’s no precedent for a team trading multiple first round picks for a tight end or receiver who is turning 28 and demanding a huge paycheck. In order for Graham to be a worthwhile investment, you’d need a good-to-great quarterback, lots of cap space and picks, and sniffing at a future title. Based off Spotrac’s cap estimates, I think the only potential suitors would be Oakland (because, the Raiders), Indianapolis (because, Luck), and the Eagles (because, Chip Kelly).
3. Nyan Cat
Jimmy’s Contract will DOOM THE TEAM!!
$5,182,990 - By cutting some defensive dead weight contracts (and Jabari, Jabari is not included in that group, I’m still in mourning here) the Saints are now $5 million under the cap. Every offseason we go through the same cycle with the Saints’ cap woes. Every year, we trim some fat, renegotiate some contracts, perform secret voodoo, etc. and we come out fine. We’ll be fine. In Loomis we trust.
4. I can has cheezburger
He Doesn’t Deserve Wide Receiver Money.
Over the last three seasons, Graham has been among the best values in the NFL. His rookie 3rd round contract has been a blessing in a lot of ways. Last season, his $1,489,285 cap hit meant the Saints could put money other places. Among the top 20 receivers last year, Jimmy’s 2013 contract mean he was 7th in dollars per reception, 6th in dollars per yard, and 2nd in dollars per touchdown.
5. Chemistry Cat
Based On These Numbers I Found, He’s Not Worth The Money.
$26,400,000 That’s Drew Brees’ cap hit in 2015. Jimmy Graham and Drew Brees share an agent (Jimmy Sexton), and the connection between Graham and Brees has always been stronger than any of the Saints’ other receivers. If the front office let’s Brees’ best weapon walk this offseason, there is no chance Brees will do us any favors. No renegotiating his deal, no cap friendly extension, nothing. We’ll just be saddled with his unruly contract, as is, until 2017. Think of Graham’s deal as a show of good faith to our favorite quarterback. I promise it’ll pay dividends down the road.
6. Business Cat
If We Could Just Win the Super Bowl Without Him Again, That’d Be Great.
The Saints offense is a rapidly aging team. They aren’t quite to the 2012 Saints Defense level, but they’re getting there. I took the weighted average of our receivers’ age (the more receptions you caught, the more your age affects the average) and we’ve been on a steady trend since 2006. If we let Graham walk, we’re doubling down on an aging skill group that’ll prominently feature four 30 year olds.
7. Serious Cat
But, Incoherent Internet Ramblings!!
You think the Saints are better off without Jimmy Graham? You think that just because Seattle has the manpower to shut him down, that other teams are just going to “figure him out” and prevent him from ever catching another ball? Seriously? Let’s just sign the man and not have to figure out where our offense is coming from once he leaves.