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Clearing Up Jimmy Graham Franchise Tag Myths

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Below are answers to reader questions submitted Sunday. Special thanks to all those that participated. Feel free to continue the discussion on any of these topics in the comment section below.

I know this is premature and it might be different come training camp, but what would be your early guess at which NFC South team most improves and regresses next year? - ATX

The 2014 league year hasn't even start yet and teams have done little to nothing to improve themselves so this question is a bit silly to ask. But I will say that given the historic trends of the NFC South and their new coach Lovie Smith, the Buccaneers will probably improve the most.


Next year, the RB on the NO roster with the most carries+receptions will be _________? - Paul B

Oh man, tough question. It could really be any of them, assuming they all remain healthy. I'll take a shot in the dark and choose my main man Pierre Thomas. He was, after all, the leader in touches last season. I'm sure Mark Ingram will get more carries on the ground this year after the late-season resurgence we saw, but he's not really used in the passing game so his total touches are limited.


So if a team wants Jimmy, they must give the Saints 2 number 1s. But only a few teams have 2 number 1s this year. So does that mean they must give this years and next? If so, the value of next year's number 1 is less than a number 1 this year. So do they negotiate? Do they throw in something else from this year? Like a #1, #2 and next year's number 1? - Rock K.

There is no negotiating. This isn't a trade situation between two teams, these are the governing rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If another team makes a contract offer to Jimmy Graham, the Saints would have the right to match that offer. If the Saints choose not to match and let Graham sign with that new team, the new team must hand over two first round picks. That's the end of it. They do not need to both be first round picks in this years NFL Draft. I would assume it would be one in 2014 and one in 2015, though the CBA doesn't seem to specify.


Okay Dave your the GM of the Saints. The Raiders just acquired Graham. We have the number 5 pick this year, who do you draft? You also have enough money left over to pick up any free agent on the market now, so who do you take? - C. Nola

I'm not actually going to answer this question, but because you said "money left over" I just want to clear up some potential confusion regarding Jimmy Graham and the Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag to make sure we're all on the same page.

The Saints would not be getting any money if they let another team sign Graham. The only compensation they would get are two first round draft picks. But no money is exchanged. The Saints salary cap situation would be exactly the same as it is now. And as it stands now, the Saints cannot just go out and pick up any free agent on the market. They're financially limited, and they would still be limited even without having to worry about paying Graham.