Saints say all's well with Graham
Updated On: Jul 25 2014 10:31:52 AM CDT
New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton don't anticipate any animosity from Jimmy Graham this season after they testifield against the tight end at a hearing to determine his position for contract purposes.
Graham went to arbitration with the team this summer after he sought to be considered a wide receiver instead of a tight end for franchise tag purposes. Loomis and Payton testified against Graham.
Last week, the two sides ended their negotiations when Graham signed a four-year, $40 million contract.
"Look, it was a tough negotiation, obviously, but it ended well," Loomis said. "Obviously going to an appeal hearing over the position argument was unique. But otherwise it was a negotiation. You know, all of these negotiations are tough.
"Obviously, when it's a high-profile guy, there's more written about it. And those are personal issues for the players, in particular, and we understand that. But that's behind us. We're glad to have it done. I'm sure Jimmy's glad to have it done. It's just a process that we had to go through. And, look, I think both sides are pretty pleased with the outcome."
Loomis took exception to a reporter calling the situation with Graham "messy."
"I don't know if I would describe that as 'messy,'" Loomis said. "There was just an issue that had to do with the way the CBA was written that introduced some more elements to it. I didn't feel like that was really messy. It was a tough negotiation, obviously, but it ended well."
Payton said he remained in contact with Graham throughout the process and even at the hearing.
"There's a weight on your shoulders when you're at a crossroads with regards to a contract," Payton said. "Listen, I've been there as a coach in a different way. And so when it's resolved, man, there's a lot of relief."
During the Saints' training camp practice in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., on Thursday, Payton said Graham posted one of the best times in a conditioning test -- a sign that he's ready for the season and to potentially improve upon last year.
In 2013, Graham finished the regular season with 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns, boosting his career totals to 301 receptions for 3,863 yards and 41 touchdowns.
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