The New Orleans Saints have placed their franchise tag on Jimmy Graham in order to protect the club’s rights to its star tight end through next season.
The move means Graham, barring a holdout, will almost certainly play for New Orleans next season for no less than the tight end franchise tag of $7.04 million.
It is also possible, under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, that Graham could be tagged as a receiver because of how often he lined up split wide from the line. That would carry a tag of $12.3 million.
Last season, Graham led the Saints in catches with 86, yards with 1,215 and touchdowns with 16.
During the past three regular seasons combined, he has 270 catches for 3,507 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Pitta reaches 5-year deal
The Baltimore Ravens and tight end Dennis Pitta reached agreement on a five-year contract.
Pitta missed most of 2013 while recovering from a dislocated and fractured hip, but he returned to catch 20 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown in the final four games.
He had 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2012 regular season and then added 14 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns in the playoffs in helping the Ravens win the Super Bowl.
Maclin, Eagles agree
Jeremy Maclin and the Philadelphia Eagles have agreed on a one-year contract, preventing the wide receiver from becoming a free agent next month.
Maclin missed the 2013 season after tearing his right ACL in training camp. The former first-round pick led the team with 69 receptions for 857 yards and seven TDs in 2012.
Panthers secure two
The Panthers announced they have applied the franchise tag to Greg Hardy, preventing the defensive end from hitting the free-agent market.
Hardy will make $12.45 million next season.
Earlier Friday, the team said it re-signed kicker Graham Gano to a four-year contract. Financial terms of that deal were not released.
Hardy, entering his fifth NFL season, tied a franchise single-season record with 15 sacks in 2013 and was selected second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press.
Hardy led the Panthers with 38 quarterback pressures and posted a career-high 67 tackles last season.
Around the league
The Chicago Bears have agreed to a one-year contract with cornerback Kelvin Hayden. … Nick Folk kicked his way to a big pay raise with the New York Jets. The Jets placed the franchise tag on the reliable kicker after he had perhaps the best season of his seven-year NFL career. …The Oakland Raiders re-signed offensive lineman Khalif Barnes, a former Washington Husky. …The NFL’s salary cap for this season has been set at $133 million, the highest amount in league history. Each team must be compliant with the cap number by March 11, when the league’s free-agency period begins.