As the New Orleans Saints began their offseason conditioning program earlier this week, players reported to the team's facility in Metairie, La to start the long march to what the organization hopes will be another successful season full of lofty goals and expectations. To no one's surprise, their was one noticeable absence, as the team's dynamic franchise-tagged Tight End Jimmy Graham was a no-show. No worries. Saints players and coaches have no problem with Jimmy Graham's absence from the team's April workouts.
Much like Drew Brees during the 2012 offseason, Graham has yet to sign his franchise offer, meaning he actually cannot participate even if he wanted to. Since he is effectively not under contract, Graham would have to sign a waiver to take part in the team workouts. Unless Graham accepts and signs the franchise tag, or can strike an agreement with the club over a long-term deal in the next few weeks, he will likely miss next month's OTAs and minicamps.
Two years ago, Brees's contract holdout went up to the eleventh hour, as the two sides finally hammered out an agreement on the eve of training camp. Graham and the Saints have until July 15 to come to such an agreement, otherwise the Tight End can only sign a one-year deal.
Saints' General Manager Mickey Loomis has cut an optimistic figure when asked about Graham's status throughout the offseason. The Saints remain confident that a deal will, indeed, get done in due time. Head Coach Sean Payton has echoed Loomis's sentiments, and stresses that Graham's absence from this week's workouts is more procedural than anything.
The New Orleans Saints and the loyal Who Dat Nation yearn to see Jimmy Graham sign something. While putting his John Hancock on a waiver to grant him participation in April workouts may be unlikely, there remains plenty of hope and optimism that Graham will be operating under a long-term contract when the team reports to training camp in West Virginia near the end of July. Once things play out the way the team and its fans hope they should, Jimmy Graham will be right where he needs to be when the lights come on and it is time to play Football.