The New Orleans Saints and star tight end Jimmy Graham beat an NFL deadline to strike a deal on a long-term contract.

It's a four-year, $40 million contract that includes $21 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.

"It's official," Graham wrote on Twitter. "I'm bleeding black and gold this morning! Thank you WhoDatNation for all the support."

The Saints had until 4 p.m. for Graham to agree to terms or he would have had to play this season under a $7.053 million franchise tender.

"The New Orleans Saints confirm that the team has agreed to terms on multi-year deal with TE Jimmy Graham," Saints spokesman Greg Bensel wrote on Twitter.

Now, the Saints and Graham have avoided that and have hammered out a long-term contract.

This follows Graham losing a grievance where he argued unsuccessfully that he should be classified as a wide receiver. On Monday, Graham filed an appeal of that ruling. At this point, the appeal should be regarded as moot other than for procedural reasons if it continues.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun