Jimmy Graham's value to Saints

No, he isn't a wide receiver. But he's worth more to New Orleans' offense

Updated: February 12, 2014, 1:05 PM ET
By John McTigue | ESPN Insider

Jimmy GrahamChris Graythen/Getty ImagesNew Orleans' Jimmy Graham had 86 receptions, 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.

Jimmy Graham led the Saints last season with 86 receptions, 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. Since his breakout 2011 season, he has the most receiving touchdowns, the fourth-most receptions and the eighth-most receiving yards in the NFL.

Graham wants to be paid like a wide receiver, and his production certainly reflects that of a top wideout. He even looks the part on game day, splitting out wide on nearly 67 percent of his snaps last season and catching 68 of his 86 passes when out wide.

Thanks to players like Graham, the tight end position has evolved, blurring the line between tight end and wide receiver. The Saints should value Graham like a top wide receiver because statistically he is as productive as many teams' No. 1. However, a breakdown of his snaps suggests he should still be considered a tight end when it comes to his franchise tag designation.