- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Pro Football Focus produced a graphic that shows how often New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has been used as an in-line tight end this year (105 snaps), and how often he’s lined up out wide or in the slot (a combined 166).
I’m not sure I agree with the notion that Graham should be labeled a “wide receiver,” though. He’s still playing on the line nearly 40 percent of the time. True receivers never line up there. What Graham plays is a hybrid role -- which is how the tight end position is evolving in today’s game.
This debate might come up in a meaningful way after the season if the Saints and Graham can’t work out a new long-term contract before the franchise-tag deadline. If the Saints try to franchise Graham as a tight end, agent Jimmy Sexton or the NFL Players Association may argue that Graham should officially be labeled as a receiver instead (a difference of roughly $4 million in the required franchise-tag salary).
But none of that should ultimately matter when the Saints and Graham finally do reach a new long-term contract agreement. No matter how you want to label Graham’s position, he’s arguably one of the top five-to-10 receivers or tight ends or receiver/tight end hybrids in the NFL today. And he deserves to be paid accordingly.
For instance, the Miami Dolphins signed free agent receiver Mike Wallace to a five-year, $60 million contract this past offseason. I’d rather have Graham – and I’m guessing I’m not alone in that regard.
Staying humble: FOX showed a glimpse of Saints coach Sean Payton’s postgame speech to his players in the locker room after last Sunday’s 26-18 victory over the Chicago Bears. During the speech, Payton singled out linebacker Junior Galette and reminded him to stay “humble” in victory, which caused some laughter among players. Last week, Galette ripped the Miami Dolphins offensive linemen in postgame interviews and on Twitter.
Staying humble, Part II: Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins was asked if he thinks Payton hates hearing the statistic that 90 percent of teams that have started 5-0 since 1990 have made the playoffs.
“He wouldn’t be alone,” Payton said. “Five wins only gets you five wins, you know? You would be an idiot to listen to that stat and think that you’re automatically going to the playoffs. Winning five games literally gets you nothing but five games. People are going to throw that around and look forward, but right now we’re just trying to get six.”
Worth watching: ESPN will re-air a fascinating feature on former Saint Steve Gleason interviewing the band Pearl Jam tonight on E:60. The piece first aired on Sunday NFL Countdown.
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