The top tight end on the market — and arguably the top player in free agency — is Jimmy Graham. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Saints are going to use the franchise tag on Graham if they're unable to lock him up to a long-term deal.
The deadline to use the franchise tag is 3 p.m. (Central) on Monday. The amount of the franchise tag for a tight end has not been finalized. It was $6.066 million last year and might be somewhere around $7.05 million this year, according to a source.
Another top tight end is off the market, as well, with Baltimore signing Dennis Pitta to a five-year deal worth $32 million, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and Scout.com.
Pitta was a fourth-round pick in 2010. He has 122 receptions for 1,244 yards (10.2 average) and 11 touchdowns in his four seasons. While it's an apples-to-oranges comparison, Finley caught 141 passes for 1,734 yards (12.3 average) and 13 touchdowns in 2011, 2012 and his abbreviated 2013.
Graham and Pitta are the top-ranked tight ends in Scout.com's soon-to-be-released free agent rankings. Finley, because of concerns over his health, was ranked behind Pitta and checked in at No. 3. It's a huge drop-off after Finley and Detroit's Brandon Pettigrew, with Carolina's Ben Hartsock, Houston's Garrett Graham, the Giants' duo of Bear Pascoe and Brandon Myers.
Free agency begins on March 11, though negotiations are allowed to begin on March 8.
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