New Orleans head coach Sean Payton has admitted that the powers that be must get the Saints' house in order before they can tie down tight end Jimmy Graham to a new deal.

Graham, who enjoyed a brilliant regular season, is a free agent this summer and could join another team - although Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has recently confirmed that the 27-year-old will be franchise tagged if a new contract can't be agreed.

However it may not be that simple for the Saints, who need to cut their wage bill. They are said to be around $12 million over their salary cap with a host of new contracts, including Graham's, in need of renegotiation.

Payton admits that some tough decisions need to be made in order to make room for Graham's new deal.

"The most challenging part of your job as a coach, and I share that with Mickey or anyone that has been with an organization as long as we have been, going on year nine, is some of the tough decisions that have to be made with regards to your cap with the ability that you possibly can sign Jimmy Graham," Payton said on Fox Sports.

"It's very easy to say 'you are certainly going to get this done' but you have to understand there is a budget here.

"That's the challenging part. You are going to read these names that have already come across the ticker from Atlanta last week (the release of cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas) and we will be no different."

In order to get Graham on board, some players may have to be hit in the pocket. One of those affected could well be quarterback Drew Brees.

The 35-year-old will earn $27.4 million in 2014 and 2015, and has previously hinted that he will take a pay cut in order to help his team.

"Whatever I can do to help this team, if they want to come to me and extend me even further, that'd be great," he said last month.

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