Tight end Graham staying with Saints

Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:47pm EDT

St. Louis Rams strong safety T.J. McDonald (25) intercepts a pass intended for New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Dec 15, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Rams strong safety T.J. McDonald (25) intercepts a pass intended for New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Dec 15, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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(Reuters) - Jimmy Graham will stay in New Orleans after signing a contract extension with the Saints that reportedly will make him the highest paid tight end ever in the National Football League.

Graham announced on Twitter that he was staying with New Orleans, and multiple media outlets reported the deal is $40 million over four years, with at least $21 million guaranteed.

“It's official I'm bleeding black and gold this morning!” Graham tweeted on Tuesday with a reference to the team colors.

The deal comes after an offseason battle between Graham and the Saints over whether the player should be classified as a wide receiver or tight end.

Graham argued for the former, but the Saints won the system arbitration decision. Tight ends generally are paid less than wide receivers.

Graham and the team put the dispute behind them to lock up a deal ahead of a Thursday deadline for franchise players to sign long term deals.

Graham, 27, has played for the Saints since being drafted in the third round in 2010 out of the University of Miami. He will become a free agent when his new contract expires.

Graham led the league last year with 16 touchdowns and caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards, even though he played with a foot injury for much of the season.

(Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Larry Fine)

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