2018 NFL CONTRACT PROJECTION: Free Agent TE Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham Measureables

Height: 6-7
Weight: 260
Age: 31
Experience: 8 seasons
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
5-Time Pro Bowler, 1-Time 1st-Team All-Pro

Jimmy Graham Profile

Graham hasn’t been the centerpiece of an offense that he was in New Orleans earlier in his career. He’s still one of the most dangerous weapons at the tight end position, evidenced by his 10 receiving touchdowns last season (most among TE) and still an elite red zone player, leading the NFL in targets, receptions, and touchdowns in the red zone since 2010.

Graham’s production has declined from his dominant days in New Orleans. From 2011-2014, Graham averaged 1,099 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns per season. Since being traded to the Seahawks in 2015, those numbers have dropped to 683 yards and 6 touchdowns per season. Graham’s 31 years old and on the back-nine of his career. Graham’s yards per reception dropped by 5.1 yards in 2017, a season removed from posting a career-high 14.2 yards per reception.

Although not as spry as his younger days, Graham is still one of the biggest mismatches for opposing defenses, and many tights end have enjoyed sustained success well into their thirties. There will be a market for Graham this offseason.

Jimmy Graham Production

Season G Tgt Rec Rec Yds Yds/Rec Rec TD
2010 15 44 31 356 11.5 5
2011 16 149 99 1310 13.2 11
2012 15 135 85 982 11.6 9
2013 16 143 86 1215 14.1 16
2014 16 124 85 889 10.5 10
2015 11 74 48 605 12.6 2
2016 16 95 65 923 14.2 6
2017 16 96 57 520 9.1 10
Totals 121 860 556 6800 12.2 69

Tight End Market

Graham is still the only tight end in NFL history to sign a contract at $10 million per season. This is due to Rob Gronkowski signing a six-year extension with two years left on his rookie contract. Gronkowski could have blown up the tight end market if not for that decision that has him still under contract for two more seasons.

Top 5: $9.24M
Top 10: $8.32M
Top 32: $5.99M

Player Comparables: WAS Jordan Reed, PHI Zach Ertz, BUF Charles Clay

Contract Comparison

Player Year Age Yrs Total APY GTD Full GTD 2018 APY
Jordan Reed 2016 25 6 $46.7M $9.4M $22.0M $14.0M $10.7M
Charles Clay 2015 27 5 $38.0M $7.6M $24.5M $13.0M $9.4M
Martellus Bennett 2017 30 3 $21.0M $7.0M $6.3M $6.3M $7.4M
Averages 27 5  $35.2M  $24.0M  $17.6M  $11.1M $9.2M

2018 Cap Adjusted Annual Salary: $9.2 million

Statistical Comparison (Two Year Averages Before Deal)

Player Seasons Tgts/Gm Rec/Gm Rec YPG Yds/Rec  TD/Game YAC/Rec
Jordan Reed 2014-15 7.2 5.5 56.7 10.3 0.4 5.5
Charles Clay 2013-14 6.2 4.2 45.5 10.7 0.3 4.8
Martellus Bennett 2015-16 5.7 4.0 42.2 10.6 0.4 5.9
Averages 4.6 48.1 10.5 0.4 5.4
Jimmy Graham 2016-17 6 3.8 45.1 11.8 0.5 4.4

Leverage

Despite the increase in leverage as an unrestricted free agent (rather than a franchise player), he doesn’t carry the same skill-set into negotiations that he did in in 2014 in New Orleans.

Salary Floor: $7 million per season

Martellus Bennett was able to get a 3-year, $21 million contract from the free-agency adverse Packers last season. There is no reason Graham, the better player of the two, should see anything less than Bennett’s $7 million per season average.

Salary Ceiling: $10 million per season

If Graham breaks his own salary threshold, the high mark among tight ends, of $10 million a season, his agents deserve a trophy. It’s hard to see Graham hitting that number, but with Washington’s Jordan Reed over the $9-million mark, it’s feasible.

Contract Projection

Graham is still one of the better tight ends in the NFL. However, he is simply not in that elite category with Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce anymore.

4 years, $32 million, $16 million guaranteed, $12 million fully guaranteed

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