Jimmy Graham's bargain status not likely to change soon

While the Drew Brees contract negotiations and fallout from the findings of the league’s investigation into the Saints’ alleged bounty program have dominated NFL headlines this offseason, New Orleans’ breakout star of 2011, TE Jimmy Graham, quietly has gone about the business of preparing to build on his stellar second season.

Graham, who had 99 catches (third in the league) for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, has critiqued his performance — he recently said he left 30 catches “on the table” in ’11 — and is looking for ways to improve.

The Saints’ focus is on signing Brees to a long-term deal, but Graham is well on his way to earning a big payday. Graham is signed through the 2013 season and is due to make $540,000 in ’12 and $575,000 in ’13, making him one of the league’s top bargains. While rewarding Graham, even with two years left on his deal, might be something the Saints would consider in an average year, it's difficult to envision Graham signing a new deal anytime soon with the team so strapped for cap space.

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