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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Graham not expected at Saints' workouts

By Mike Triplett

AVONDALE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints began their offseason conditioning program this week with tight end Jimmy Graham still unsigned. But it’s still too early in the year for anyone to be concerned about his absence.

Graham is not expected to participate in the Saints’ workouts since he’s not under contract. Although the Saints placed the franchise tag on Graham, he hasn’t signed the offer yet. So he’d have to sign a waiver to participate.

Jimmy Graham
Seeking a long-term deal with the Saints, Jimmy Graham could miss a big portion of the team's offseason workouts.
Saints coach Sean Payton seemed to indicate Wednesday that he doesn’t expect that to happen when asked if he anticipates Graham joining the team for any workouts.

“I think it’s pretty normal. I think everything the first week was pretty much as expected,” said Payton, who spoke with the media before teeing off in the pro-am at the Zurich Classic PGA tournament.

It’s also highly possible that Graham could miss the Saints’ OTAs and minicamp practices in May and June while the two sides continue to negotiate over a long-term contract extension.

The important deadline is July 15. After that date, franchised players can only sign one-year agreements with their teams. History suggests that the standoff could last right up until the deadline (as was the case with quarterback Drew Brees’ deal when he was franchised in 2012).

Brees spoke confidently about Graham’s situation while appearing on "The Dan Patrick Show" on Wednesday. Brees said he is confident a deal will get done “very soon.”

However, Brees seemed to be speaking in general terms rather than giving any specific insight that a deal is close.

Among other topics Payton discussed Wednesday: