New York Giants to Target TE Jimmy Graham if Saints do not Franchise tag him.
Graham is an UFA and in all likelihood will get the franchise tag from the Saints, however; the Saints have roughly $5M in cap space (according to Overthecap.com) and with other key players such as: (S) Malcolm Jenkins (cap hit $4M), (ILB) Jonathan Vilma (cap hit $4M), (T) Zach Shief (cap hit) $2.5M) and (C) Brian De La Puente (cap hit $2M) there could be a slight chance the Saints decide to not give him the franchise tag and Graham becomes free to negotiate with anyone.
If that’s the case, Graham will arguably be one of the top sought after free agents this offseason.
At 6’7", Graham is obviously a big target; and despite being a TE, Graham plays 50 percent of his snaps not at the traditional TE spot on the line (next to the OT). Graham often lines up in the slot and at times as a wide out, creating mismatches for opposing defenses.
This made not be what the Giants' offense typically does, but perhaps the new OC can be more creative if the Giants did indeed pursue Graham. The price tag for Graham is under debate as his agent would claim that Graham position is more of a WR (which would demand a higher salary). A few years back, Chargers TE Antonio Gates made a similar case while negotiating a new contract, but was unsuccessful.
Nonetheless, Graham would be in the top three among TEs in salary (roughly $6-7M per year). Traditionally, the Giants don’t like to sign high priced free agents, however; this offseason is unique and Jerry Reese needs to make a statement. With Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell, who are expected to be more involved next season can handle most of the blocking a##ignments in many packages; the Giants could employ a two TE system at times with Cruz and Randle as the wide outs.
This signing would not affect players such as Jason Pierre Paul and Prince Amukamara when they become free agents in 2015; as the Giants will be in good shape to re-sign those two key players and keep the nucleus intact.
According to NJ.com, the New York Giants will have plenty of work to do with their personnel in 2014 and general manager Jerry Reese will be working with a solid cap situation in order to turn the team around from their disastrous 2013 campaign.
The team will have 27 free agents to think about and they will have $101,688,010 accounted for against the salary cap next season.
QB Eli Manning $20.4 M and S Antrel Rolle $9.25M are prime candidates to restructure their deal for more wiggle room for the club.
The estimated 2014 NFL salary cap is projected to be $126.3 million and the Giants would be left with almost $20 million to spend.
Dead money from cutting OL Chris Snee: $4.5 million - Snee is almost certain to be released because of his unreasonable $11.75 million cap number.