Jimmy Graham: Will make retirement decision based on Saints

NFL tight end Jimmy Graham hasn't closed the door on playing football.

Graham is currently training to row 1,000 kilometers across the Arctic Ocean next summer in pursuit of a world record. Graham will be part of a four-person team intending to break the current record of 15 days, five hours and 32 minutes.

He also has plans for several long-distance bike rides over the next year, including a race with former NFL tight end Luke Willson at the end of June.

But Graham, who posted a thank you to the New Orleans Saints on his Instagram account in March, said "he's not sure yet" when asked recently if he was officially retired.

"I'm gonna reach out to the Saints and figure out what's best, and then make the decision on when it's best for me to retire," he told ESPN.

Graham signed a one-year deal with the Saints last year after being out of football for the 2022 season and said he only intended to return to the league if it was to play in New Orleans. Graham recently spoke to ESPN and said that stance hasn't changed.

"I don't have any expectations," Graham said. "I just want to make sure when I retire, it's as a Saint, and it's when they want me to. I'll just make sure I give them a call and see exactly when they want me to retire and then I'll end up doing it."

Graham, who turns 38 in November, ranks fourth among tight ends and 16th all-time with 89 career receiving touchdowns. If he plays in 2024, he will be the second-oldest active tight end. Graham's former teammate Marcedes Lewis recently announced he would return to play for the Chicago Bears this year at 40.

Graham appeared in 13 games for the Saints last season and had six catches, four for touchdowns. The Saints finished 9-8 and missed the playoffs.

"I think anything is possible," Graham said when asked if he could play football and train to row across the ocean as well. "Right now I'm certainly enjoying how my body feels as far as my joints and everything.

"Last year I think was difficult for all of us. There were a lot of things that went down and having such a good team and not making the playoffs. I think obviously the team is stronger than it was last year even. It's going to be obviously interesting for me to be home watching, if that's the case. ...

"I know a lot of people were shocked I came back at my age and thought that I couldn't do anything. But I know that every time I was on that field and every opportunity, I made the best of it. And I think I still showed people that I still have the athleticism to get open and score touchdowns."

Saints tight ends coach Clancy Barone, who called Graham back to the NFL after a year off, said he is sure Graham will be ready to play if an opportunity arises.

"He's the ultimate competitor, the ultimate team player, and I'm sure he'll be great at whatever endeavor he has. I would not rule out the football part of it until he rules it out," Barone said.