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Jimmy Graham on returning to Saints in 2023: 'I've been trying to come home for a long time'

Eight years after being traded away, Jimmy Graham returns to New Orleans.

Signing a one-year contract with the Saints this week, Graham, who didn't play last season, said Saturday that NOLA is the only club he'd consider suiting up for at this stage of his career.

"For me, I've been trying to come home for a long time," Graham told reporters. "Last year had some conversations and determined that I really didn't want to play anywhere else. Had a couple teams that were reaching out -- all teams that made the playoffs. I just couldn't see myself wearing another jersey. Just wanted, hopefully, if there was ever an opportunity to come back home to make it happen here. It did, and I'm here now."

A third-round pick in 2010, Graham grew into one of the most dynamic weapons in the NFL, earning three Pro Bowl nods in five seasons with the Saints.

Then, a year after inking a four-year, $40 million contract, New Orleans shipped him to Seattle in 2015. Graham noted Saturday that he was stunned by the trade and never really got over leaving Drew Brees and Sean Payton.

Graham spent three seasons in Seattle, two in Green Bay, and two in Chicago before sitting out last season. Now he's back in New Orleans to try to end his career on a high note.

"It feels amazing to be back home," he said. "Just driving up to the facility on Monday brought back beautiful memories for me. Not only here in this building but here in this city. I became a man in this city. It meant everything to me to play for this city. So to come back here and to be able to get all those amazing memories, amazing wins, amazing people, amazing fans is truly special. It made me pretty emotional Monday and Tuesday just to be able to be back here and, obviously, to be able to put my jersey back on. Words can't describe what it feels like to be gone for that long from something that you love from the people that you love. So I'm fired up."

The question for the Saints is how much gas the 36-year-old has left in his tank. New Orleans gave him the day off Saturday as a vet day.

When he was last on the field in Chicago, Graham caught 14 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games.

Still, he could carve out a red-zone role for Derek Carr and the Saints' offense in 2023.

"Obviously, I'm feeling better than ever -- I'm still 6'7", and I like the red zone," he quipped.

Graham joined a Saints tight ends room led by Juwan Johnson, Foster Moreau, Jesse James and Taysom Hill. Graham will be a name to track as we get closer to cut-down day.

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