Graham, a free agent in the offseason, is one of a handful of key free agents, is expecting the franchise tag. The Saints used the same strategy to retain Brees before eventually signing him to a contract worth $100 million. His deal consumes $18.4 million and $26.4 million in cap space the next two seasons.
"Listen, I get compensated very well. I don't take that for granted for one second," Brees said. "But I play this game because I love this game, I love this locker room and I love the opportunity to win a championship."
The Saints are projected to be at least $12 million over the 2014 salary cap of $126.6 million.
Graham played almost half of his total snaps at wide receiver and could be primed to challenge the franchise free agent value. In the past, hybrid athletes such as Baltimore Ravens defensive end-outside linebacker Terrell Suggs were successful challenging the tag value.
Graham, who played with a serious foot injury late in the 2013 season and postseason, led the Saints with 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. In 2012, he caught 85 passes for 982 yards and nine touchdowns.
Brees, 35, just completed his third consecutive 5,000-yard passing season.
--A slow-moving coaching search by the Cleveland Browns is unlikely to shift gears until the front office sits down to interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Gase is expected to interview with the Browns only after the Broncos are eliminated from the postseason.
Gase, 35, made the decision not to interview during the playoffs upon learning the Browns and Minnesota Vikings were interested in conducting interviews with him during Denver's bye week in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.
The appeal, of course, is that Gase -- in concert with quarterback Peyton Manning -- helped the Broncos finish the season with a league-record 606 points and a passing offense that was statistically the most productive in NFL history.
It is not known if Gase will also interview with the Vikings, whose vacancy remains but reports indicate the team has three finalists -- including one "mystery" candidate. That third party could be Gase. Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordiantor Todd Bowles are reportedly coming back for second interviews.
Meanwhile a second coordinator has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Browns' job.
Last week, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels withdrew his name.
This week, Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has withdrawn from the Cleveland job, according to Fox Sports.
--In a refreshing break from the 24/7/365 chatter about quarterbacks, the Professional Football Writers of America selected Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy as NFL's 2013 Rookie of the Year.
The PFWA named San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen as Offensive Rookie of the Year and Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso as Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In an interesting turn following the celebrated glut of rookie quarterbacks in 2012 -- a class that produced at least nine quarterbacks who already started at least one game -- the PFWA's No. 1 quarterback on the All-Rookie team is Mike Glennon, who moved into the starting job almost by default during chaos in Tampa Bay and, following a theme, earned his All-Rookie by default more than any dramatic heroics.
And, in yet another reason why it is interesting that Ken Whisenhunt's signed as head coach with Tennessee instead of Detroit, the Lions led all teams with three All-Rookie selections -- defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah, punter Sam Martin and guard Larry Warford. Carolina, St. Louis, Miami and San Diego each had two players on the squad. In all, 21 clubs are represented among the 27 players honored.
--Bob McNair is foremost the owner of the Houston Texans, the franchise that holds the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft after ending last season with 14 consecutive losses.
But McNair is also a proud alumnus of the University of South Carolina, and he paid pretty close attention to junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 2 overall prospect eligible for the May draft according to NFLDraftScout.com.
So while the Texans deliberate for the next four months how to invest the top pick in the draft -- a process that involves general manager Rick Smith and new head coach Bill O'Brien -- the owner let it be known he appreciates Clowney's rare athleticism.
"He's one of these players who's a once-in-every-10 years kind of physical specimen that comes along," McNair said, before comparing Clowney to the team's last No. 1 pick in 2006. "Mario Williams was that way. I think Clowney is actually a better athlete than Mario."
--The San Diego Chargers have re-signed defensive coordinator John Pagano, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported .
The news comes one day after the Tennessee Titans hired former San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt to become their next head coach.
Pagano, whose previous contract expired after this season, had drawn interest from the Titans as well, according to ESPN.