Drew Brees clarifies position on Jimmy Graham

Less than two months ago, Saints quarterback Drew Brees put himself at the center of a media controversy when he confidently declared All-Pro teammate Jimmy Graham was “a tight end.”

When he appeared on NFL Network’s Total Access on Thursday night, Brees wasn’t going to make the same mistake. So, after being asked to once again wade into the league-wide debate about whether Graham is a tight end or a wide receiver, Brees flashed a wry smile and replied, “He’s a hybrid.”

“He’s re-writing the requirements of the person at that position,” Brees said. “Any guy like him that’s drafted in the future — the bar is Jimmy Graham.”

While Brees delivered his politically sound answer, it certainly seemed the fallout that ensued after he replied to a similar question less elegantly was fresh on his mind.

In January, during an interview with NBC Sports Radio’s Erik Kuselias, Brees remarked of Graham: “He’s a tight end. He’s a tight end.”

Brees was only reiterating his team’s well-known stance: Graham is a tight end because that’s what he was drafted as, and that’s what he’s been to two Pro Bowls as. However, pundits promptly accused him of possibly hurting the earning potential of Graham, who everyone knew was going to be given a franchise tag.

Graham, who spent most of his time in 2013 on the gridiron lining up out wide for the Saints, was handed that one-year franchise tag as a tight end on Feb. 28. A franchise tag for a receiver is about $5 million more than it is for a tight end, and many believe Graham could file a grievance through the players union to be classified as a wideout for the purposes of payment.

Graham might not even play under the one-year franchise tag if he and the Saints can work out a long-term contract to replace the now-expired rookie deal he accepted from New Orleans as a third-round draft pick in 2010. But, if Graham goes through with the grievance, then it may be up to an arbitrator to determine exactly what position he is.

And Brees on Thursday made sure to not say anything that could be misconstrued as his taking a stand against Graham, who led the NFL in the regular season with 16 touchdown catches and the Saints with 1,215 yards receiving, impressive enough to make him New Orleans’ only first-team All-Pro player last year.

“There is a place I can throw it where he can catch it and the other guy can’t,” Brees said about Graham on Total Access. “I want to be throwing to that guy a long time.”

Moore in black and yellow

Former Saints receiver Lance Moore is switching from the Black and Gold to the Black and Yellow.

Moore, released by the Saints earlier in March, agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Steelers, whom he visited Wednesday, Pittsburgh announced via Twitter on Friday.

Moore will head to Pittsburgh after its ex-receiver Emmanuel Sanders signed a three-year contract with Denver on Sunday and a wideout the Steelers targeted in free agency, Jerricho Cotchery opted for Carolina on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, Moore tweeted to his more than 127,000 followers, “Excited to be a part of #steelernation Couldn’t ask for a better organization to continue my career with!”

The 5-foot-9 Moore joined the Saints in 2005 and went on to catch 346 passes for 4,281 yards — fifth-most in both categories among NFL undrafted receivers from ’05 to 2013.

He also caught the fifth-most touchdown passes in Saints history (38) and a key two-point conversion pass in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV, New Orleans’ lone NFL championship victory. His being cut saved New Orleans $2.5 million in salary-cap space as the beginning of free agency neared.

Brees recently told NFL.com’s Around the League editor Gregg Rosenthal that Moore “was always an unsung hero.”

“Lance was just the quiet guy who just made plays and did what we asked him to do,” Brees said to Rosenthal. “I can think of so many big plays he had for us in his career.”

While Brees remembers the receiver as quiet, Saints fans aren’t likely to forget Moore’s trademark touchdown dances.

Quotables and lagniappe

“It was hard for me to come up with a reason to leave. ... I think even my mother at this point would concede New Orleans is my home, as much as it probably pains her to say that. This will probably, barring an unforeseen circumstance, be the place where I spend the rest of my life.” — From the Saints’ website, right tackle Zach Strief, a Cincinnati native who became a free agent on March 11 but six days later re-signed with New Orleans on a five-year deal.

“The fans of the ‘Who Dat Nation’ and the Mississippi Gulf Coast are like none other. ... But going to Minnesota is a better fit for me with the new scheme.” -Via the Mississippi Press, defensive lineman Tom Johnson, a Moss Point, Miss., native who left the Saints in free agency for the Vikings.

Saints punter Thomas Morstead is participating in the St. Baldrick’s Day block party on Saturday at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub in the 3700 block of Banks Street in New Orleans. To raise awareness about and funds to battle childhood cancer, Morstead will shave off his hair and beard about 2 p.m., his charitable organization announced.