NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Saints on Tuesday confirmed a contract with Jimmy Graham, ending a holdout for the standout tight end.

ESPN reported Graham’s four-year deal is worth up to $40 million, making him the highest-paid tight end in league history. ESPN said the guaranteed amount is $21 million.

Graham, 27, skipped all of the Saints’ voluntary and mandatory practices and workouts — and challenged the league’s franchise-tag process through arbitration.

The odds of Graham leaving the Saints were slim since the team in late February placed its franchise tag on him.

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The NFL Players Association filed a grievance, contending Graham was used as a wide receiver often enough to qualify for the more lucrative receiver tag, worth about $5 million a year more than the $7 million tag for a tight end.

A hearing was held in June and earlier this month. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank sided with the NFL, ruling Graham was a tight end.

Last season, Graham led the Saints with 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns.


• Ex-Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe intends to sue the team over allegations of anti-gay conduct by special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer, Kluwe’s lawyer said.

Lawyer Clayton Halunen said they will seek a copy of the Vikings’ internal investigation and make it public if they can. They accused the Vikings of reneging on a pledge to release the report, which they believe corroborates Kluwe’s claims.

The Vikings hired two outside lawyers to examine Kluwe’s claims Priefer used slurs and taunts to try to quash Kluwe’s outspoken support for gay marriage. Priefer denied the allegations. Kluwe, 32, was cut in May 2013 after eight seasons with the Vikings.

Greg Hardy, Pro Bowl defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, has been found guilty of assaulting a woman and communicating threats.

Hardy, 25, was sentenced to 18 months’ probation. A 60-day jail sentence was suspended.

Hardy’s attorney, Chris Fialko, said he will appeal and Hardy has asked for a jury trial in superior court. Thus the terms of Hardy’s probation are on hold until the trial — allowing him to attend training camp and compete in games.

The judge didn’t buy Hardy’s testimony he was the one abused by the accuser and asked her to leave his condominium during a domestic dispute May 13.

• The Dallas Cowboys are releasing Kyle Orton, 31, after the backup quarterback missed all the offseason workouts amid reports he was considering retirement, a source with knowledge of the team’s decision said.

Tony Romo’s backup is likely to be Brandon Weeden.