Brees shows support of Graham

Updated: February 13, 2014, 8:35 PM ET
By Mike Triplett | ESPN.com

Earlier this week, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was accused of failing to help teammate Jimmy Graham's free agent cause when he described Graham as a tight end instead of a wide receiver. So Brees made it clear that he fully supports Graham on Friday by standing up on radio host Dan Patrick's desk and shouting, "I want Jimmy Graham back!"

Of course he does. No matter how Graham is officially labeled, he's Brees' go-to guy. Over the past three years, Graham has led the Saints with 270 receptions for 3,507 yards and 36 touchdowns. And there is no doubt that Brees will get his wish -- one way or another.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said last week that the Saints will use the franchise tag on Graham if they're unable to work out a long-term contract extension over the next month.

The big debate with Graham, however, is whether or not he should be designated as a tight end or receiver if he receives the franchise tag.

And when Brees was asked earlier this week whether he considers Graham a tight end or receiver by NBC Sports radio host Erik Kuselias, Brees said, "He's a tight end. He's a tight end."

"We're able to do a lot of creative things with him, just like we're able to do with a lot of our personnel," Brees explained in that Wednesday interview. "I feel like with Sean Payton, with our offensive system, we gear towards putting those guys in the best position to succeed according to their strengths. And Jimmy Graham is 6-7, 270, he runs like a deer. And he can jump and catch, and he's so strong and physical. ...

"He can play the line. He has the ability to split out and make all kinds of plays. But look around the league at the style of offenses that guys run now. In a lot of cases, tight ends are in two-point stances - close to the line of scrimmage in most cases. But you're shifting and moving 'em to try and create matchups and get 'em on the run. But he's as good as any in the game."

When asked about those comments Friday on The Dan Patrick Show, Brees said, "I didn't realize someone was taking that and choosing to make it a contract discussion."

Brees said he answered that Graham is a tight end mostly because, "he's 6-6, 270 pounds and that's what tight ends look like."

Brees said he has talked to Graham since those earlier comments, and that it was no big deal since it "doesn't really matter what I say; it has no bearing on the rules of how he's designated."

Then Brees said, "I can tell you this, I would stand up on your table right now and say, 'I want to have Jimmy Graham back.' Does that make things better?" So Brees did -- his fists pumping in the air as he shouted, "I want Jimmy Graham back!"

Patrick then asked Brees if he would give some of his own money to Graham, and Brees said, "If he needed some, I would," though he declined to make any specific promises in that regard.

Brees had been doing the full-on media blitz this week with the Super Bowl in the New York area. He was a guest on ESPN's NFL Live on Thursday. And he has appeared on programs with the likes of David Letterman, Stephen Colbert and Katie Couric, as well as several sports networks on TV and radio while promoting Xbox and his Brees Dream Foundation.

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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