New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton says he is optimistic over Jimmy Graham putting pen to paper on a new contract.
As it stands Graham will stay with the Saints for the 2014 season after he was franchised as a tight end, but would be free to walk away for nothing next year.
However talks over a new long-term deal that would keep him in New Orleans for the foreseeable future have been on-going, with reports suggesting yesterday that an agreement could be reached by mid-April.
The Saints have experience in dealing with negotiating new contracts for star players having eventually reached a deal with quarterback Drew Brees two years ago after he was tagged.
Payton says that like Brees, he is confident that Graham will be tied down to a new contract soon.
"His situation is similar to Drew, a lot of us feel it's not a matter of if but when," he said when speaking at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando.
If that does prove to be the case then it would save a lot of hassle for both parties. If Graham doesn't sign a new deal he is likely to contest the Saints decision to tag him as a tight-end, when he lined up for the majority of his snaps away from his regular position.
The average salary of the top three tight-ends is roughly $5 million less than the money he would get if he as considered a wide receiver.
In order to avoid him taking his case to the league, the Saints are reportedly willing to make him the best-paid tight end in NFL history by offering him a contract in excess of the $9 million earned by current record holder Rob Gronkowski.