July 15 (Bloomberg) -- Jimmy Graham agreed to a new contract with the New Orleans Saints that makes him the highest-paid tight end in the National Football League.
Graham, who led the NFL with 16 touchdown receptions last season, will get $40 million from the Saints over the next four seasons, according to NFL.com, with between $20 million and $21 million in guaranteed money. His average salary would surpass that of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is making $9 million per season, NFL.com said.
“It’s official,” Graham wrote on his Twitter feed. “I’m bleeding black and gold this morning!”
Graham, 27, has spent his first four NFL seasons with the Saints, catching 301 passes for 3,863 yards and 41 touchdowns. He had 86 receptions for 1,215 yards last season.
The Saints used their franchise tag on Graham after the season and the NFL Players Association in May filed a grievance on his behalf, arguing that he should be designated as a receiver rather than a tight end because he was used more often away from the end of the offensive line. The franchise tag would have limited Graham to a one-year contract of about $7 million as a tight end and $12.3 million as a receiver.
An arbitrator ruled this month that Graham is a tight end. Graham had until today to sign a long-term contract unless he proceeded with an appeal.
To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at email@example.com Dex McLuskey