Archive | March, 2014

Jimmy Graham to Packers?

4 Mar
Jimmy Graham

The New Orleans Saints used their franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham on Monday. The tight end has drawn interest from the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
Credit: http://www.zimbio.com

As the NFL Franchise Tag deadline passed at 4 p.m. ET Monday, only four of the NFL’s 32 teams elected to use their franchise tag. One of those teams was the New Orleans Saints, who tagged tight end Jimmy Graham.

The Saints likely intended to use their franchise tag on Graham to buy themselves more time to work out a long-term deal, but they might have different intentions, possibly involving other NFL teams.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggested the Green Bay Packers could be a potential team interested in Graham. The Packers could sign Graham to an offer sheet, giving up two first-round picks to the Saints if they are unable to match the Packers’ offer.

Signing Graham looks sexy on paper. He certainly would fill a void on the Packers’ roster, but don’t be mistaken. While tight ends Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless are set to become unrestricted free agents, making a play for Graham would go against the draft-and-develop philosophy of Packers General Manager Ted Thompson.

During his tenure with the Packers, Thompson has proven to be reluctant when acquiring top-tier players via trades or free agency.

In addition, this year’s draft class has a great deal of depth at the tight end position.

In a win-now league, the Packers must still be mindful of their future. Sacrificing two first-round picks for one player – even if it happens to be one as talented as Graham – would be a risky move. It would jeopardize the Packers’ ability to build through the draft and improve their porous defense, which ranked 24th in the NFL last season.

An integral part in improving, or at least maintaining, their defensive unit would be re-signing cornerback Sam Shields, who has already announced he will test the market once free agency hits Tuesday, March 11.

The Packers have the sixth-most salary cap space in the NFL this offseason, $34.7 million to be exact. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com has reported the Packers will be big spenders in free agency. Look for them to spend that money on signing household names, such as Shields and center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Whatever money is left over should be spent on the defensive side of the ball.

With the Packers’ ample cap space, paired with a talented free agent pool, it’s not unthinkable for Thompson to slightly alter his approach this offseason. The last time he did was in 2006, when the Packers acquired cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett.

The Buffalo Bills did not tag safety Jairus Byrd, and he will become a free agent next Tuesday. He would immediately fill a need for the Packers.

While it’s only a rumor and relatively far-fetched for now, the idea of seeing Graham in a Packers uniform is intriguing. Lining him up alongside Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb would make the Packers a juggernaut on offense.

That being said, the Packers’ defense is a priority, and the risk associated with signing Graham would arguably outweigh the reward. When all is said and done, I doubt Graham will be on the Packers’ roster next season, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Would you like to see the Packers make a move on Graham?