Jimmy Graham agrees to four-year, $40M deal with Saints

Published Jul. 15, 2014 9:13 a.m. ET

The long, drawn-out process has come to an end.

The New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham has agreed to the richest contract for a tight end, landing a four-year, $40 million deal with $21 million guaranteed, FOX Sports 1 NFL Insider Mike Garafolo and other media report. The contract falls just short of San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis' $23 million in guaranteed money.

Graham and the Saints, who were seeking to place a franchise tag on Graham, were locked in a dispute regarding whether he should be paid as a tight end or a wide receiver. An arbitrator ruled that Graham should be designated as a tight end, but Graham appealed that ruling.

The two sides had until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday to reach a long-term deal or Graham had to sign his tender.

Graham's deal eclipses the annual value of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who earns $9 million per season. Graham has 301 receptions for 3,863 yards and 41 touchdowns since entering the league in 2010.