Earlier this year, there were talks surrounding Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham and his future with the team. Graham will be the starting tight end for the Packers in 2019, but it’s clear this upcoming season is crucial for him.
Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report named the 10 veteran NFL players who have most on the line in 2019 and Graham made the cut. Here’s a look at what Moton had to say about Graham.
“In 2018, Graham finished with 636 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Typically known for his pass-catching and red-zone talents, the All-Pro tight end didn’t fully showcase his skill set with the Packers last year. Green Bay signed him to a three-year, $30 million deal last March, but the investment fell short in a disappointing season.”
“Next offseason, Green Bay can release Graham and save $8 million, per Over the Cap. He’s headed into his age-33 campaign and there’s a possibility the front office drafts a player at the position in April. With quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the ninth-year veteran must provide more on offense to avoid a potential early-contract termination.”
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It was all but confirmed that Graham would be back with the team last month as he earned a big roster bonus on the third day of the league year. The All-Pro tight end earned a roster bonus of $5 million so it wouldn’t make sense for the Packers to cut him. Also, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported earlier this year the Packers are going to keep Graham and see what he does in the new offense led by head coach Matt LaFleur.
“I’ve heard the comments of him not being a blocker (but), if you really go back and look at the tape, he did a nice job as a blocker for us last year – much more than people would understand unless you watch the tape,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said. “Obviously, Jimmy, he’s a Hall of Fame-type talent. He probably didn’t have the year he was quite expecting last year, but he still was a pretty productive player for us. … I thought he was really good for our locker room and I expect big things from him this year.”
Graham was the top free agent addition for the Packers last offseason as he signed a three-year, $30 million back in March. However, it’s only a one-year deal worth $13 million because he will get his base salary and bonuses which will be worth $1.45 million and $11 million of the $30 million is guaranteed money. So the Packers could have cut Graham after the 2018 season if they wanted to and they would have saved salary cap space for the next two seasons. Graham finished the 2018 season with 55 receptions for 636 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers are similar to what he had in 2015 when he posted 48 receptions for 602 yards and two touchdowns in his first season with the Seattle Seahawks.