Jimmy Graham may have been slapped with the franchise tag, but that doesn't guarantee he'll be a member of the New Orleans Saints next season. In order to poach a franchise player with a non-exclusive tag from his original club, a team would have to give Graham a contract that the Saints wouldn't match while also surrendering two first-round draft picks.
But Graham is one of the best tight ends who has ever played the game. At 27, he's only entering his prime, and yet he already has two 1,200-yard seasons under his belt. In league history, only five other tight ends have hit that mark once. He's also the only player in football with more than 35 touchdown catches since the start of 2011.
If anyone's going to mortgage their future in order to steal Graham away from the Saints, it's going to be one of these franchises:
1. Seattle Seahawks: Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report tossed this one out this week, based mainly on the fact that two first-round picks are almost like second-round choices for a team like the Seahawks, who pick 32nd this year and won't likely be a lot higher next year. They could also use a player like Graham in a huge way. Imagine what he'd do to that offense and how much he'd help Russell Wilson. According to Spotrac, the Seahawks have about $11 million in cap space, so it's not out of the realm of possibility.
2. St. Louis Rams: I know they have Jared Cook already, but again, imagine what a guy like Graham could do for Sam Bradford. The Rams have two first-round picks, and they'd be able to hold onto their No. 2 overall selection regardless, only surrendering the No. 13 overall pick that they originally owned as well as their top pick in 2015. A problem, though, is that they have only $6 million in cap space.
3. New York Jets: They've done crazier. OK, maybe not. But they've done a lot of crazy in recent years, so I wouldn't rule anything out for a team that doesn't pick until the No. 18 spot and has over $25 million in cap space. Oh, and they could use a tight end.
4. Miami Dolphins: They're in a similar situation to the one New York is in. They have plenty of cap space (over $38 million) and don't pick until the No. 19 spot. And with Dustin Keller likely gone after missing the 2013 season, it's more realistic. Charles Clay is no Jimmy Graham.
5. New England Patriots: Strangely, our list includes five teams from only two divisions. But we know how much the Pats love their tight ends, and one is proving to be an injury-prone mess while the other is in jail awaiting a murder trial. Bill Belichick isn't crazy about first-round picks anyway (although that has changed a bit under the new CBA) and they never pick outside of the bottom five. With over $9 million in cap space, don't rule New England out.