Rob Gronkowski just got a record extension for a tight end, 54 million over 6 years, but don’t expect the same to happen for Jimmy Graham. Graham essentially matched Gronkowski in production last season and is also heading into his 3rd year after being taken in the 3rd round in the 2010 NFL Draft, the same draft where Gronkowski went in the 2nd round.
Like Gronkowski did, Graham still has 2 years left on his current deal, but unlike the Patriots, the Saints are not in a hurry to get him extended. In fact, according to Pro Football Weekly, it is “difficult to envision” the Saints extending Graham this offseason, citing their limited cap space and the fact that they’re still tied up in ongoing and more important negotiations with Drew Brees.
That’s totally reasonable, but if Graham continues to play this well, they may regret not signing Graham to a Gronkowski like deal this offseason. If Graham leads the team in receiving in 2012 and 2013, like he did by a wide margin in 2011, he’ll point to Marques Colston, who is making 40 million over 5 years, in negotiations, say that he has outproduced Colston on the same offense for 3 years, and possibly demand upwards of 50 million over 5 years. All of a sudden, the Patriots’ deal for Gronkowski, who is a significantly better blocker, will look like a steal.