New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is confident the offense can continue to roll without tight end Jimmy Graham.
“Look at our numbers over the last eight years,” Brees told USA TODAY Sports. “We’ve had a lot of different guys in there. Jimmy’s only been here four years. He’s only been here half the time. We were putting up some pretty big numbers before he got here, and we’ve been putting up some big numbers since he’s been here.
“Hey, we do what we do. It’s nice when you can have guys like Jimmy, and obviously he’s a big part of our offense. If he’s in there, we’re going to try to get him the ball. We’re game-planning ways to get him the ball, ways to put him in the best position to succeed. But if he’s not, somebody else is going to get those touches. We’ll put those guys in position.”
Graham had 86 catches, 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. He’s currently in a franchise tag dispute and isn’t required to attend the Saints mandatory three-day camp.
“I’d hate to not have Jimmy,” Brees said. “I’m very confident that a deal will get done. But if it doesn’t, you worry about what you do have and who you do have out there.”
The Saints franchised Graham in March as a tight end, but the five-year pro objected the tag and contends he should be tagged as a wide receiver because he played two-thirds of his snaps last season in the slot or aligned wide.
The tight end tag carries a $7.035 million tender while the wide receiver figure is $12.3 million for one-year.
“I expect to have him, but it’s just like if he gets injured,” Brees said. “What happens if he gets hurt? You’ve got to roll without him. The one game he was hurt back in 2012, I think we threw for about 400 (yards).
“So you find other ways to make the system work.”