Saints Could Miss Out On Signing TE Jermaine Gresham

Free agent tight end Jermaine Gresham has played the cards really well considering it looked like the opposite when free agency first started.

The former Cincinnati Bengal entered free agency as a hot commodity then interest fizzled when he had to have back surgery as the signing period started.

Eventually the New Orleans Saints took some interest in Gresham and hosted him for a visit considering their lack of proven depth at the position heading into training camp.

Nothing was reported other than head coach Sean Payton saying that he felt Gresham would be a good fit in their system.

Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham (84) makes a catch during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

But a recent report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter reveals that there is more interest than thought..as in a lot more.

Scheffer revealed that the Saints have indeed offered Gresham a contract, but it’s unclear exactly when.

I had speculated (and championed the idea numerous times) that the Saints should grab a veteran tight end due to the aforementioned lack of depth and experience at the position.

May 28, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talks with tight ends Josh Hill (89) and Benjamin Watson during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Benjamin Watson and Josh Hill are really the only two realistic options as starters for the Saints when it comes to the roster.

The Saints had plenty of chances to sign a tight end during free agency after not selecting one in the draft.

Understandably the front office chose to focus on defense in both the draft and free agency to help fix glaring problems in the secondary and solidify the front seven.

While the Saints aren’t sunk after dealing away Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks, it looked like the tight end position was becoming what the secondary was last year…a potential problem.

Not saying Watson and Hill are terrible, but the one thing Graham proved to be was athletic when going up for passes especially in the endzone.

Sep 29, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham (84) makes a leaping catch as Cleveland Browns inside linebacker Craig Robertson (53) defends during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns beat the Bengals 17-6. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Some writers, local and national, have said the Saints will be fine or okay at the position and expect Hill to have a breakout year.

But as with the the 2014 secondary I remember hearing the same thing and we all saw how that turned out.

So apologies to Watson and “potential phenom” Hill but this is an area the team doesn’t need to gamble on.

While it’s good the Saints are trying to sign Gresham, the bad news according to Schefter is that the Arizona Cardinals will be hosting him for a visit this week.

Also in the report Schefter says that Gresham is being courted by other teams and has visits lined up the next two weeks.

Not being a Debbie Downer to Saints fans but this tale doesn’t usually play out well for New Orleans when a player is allowed to leave for other visits.

General manager Mickey Loomis is usually a master at the “sit and stay” visit where a player comes in and is hooked immediately.

May 29, 2014; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Gresham is naturally, as I mentioned earlier, playing the cards right since he is really the only viable veteran free agent tight end remaining on the market.

He’s shopping around trying to get the best value possible for himself and can afford to take his time.

The details of the contract that was offered by the Saints to Gresham is unknown but there is little wiggle room left in their salary cap space.

OverTheCap.com is reporting that the team has approximately $2.9 million left while Spotrac.com is showing they have approximately $3.2 million available.

Regardless of those figures, the Cardinals and any other team Gresham visits will have more financial sway if that’s what he’s looking for.

Hopefully the chance to catch passes from future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees will be enough to bring Gresham to New Orleans to help bolster the tight end position for the team.

Otherwise it could be a huge missed opportunity for the Saints in the tight end free agency race — again…….