Tyrann Mathieu wasn't aware of new teammate Graham's role with Saints

METAIRIE, La. -- There were a few minutes of confusion on social media Tuesday morning after the New Orleans Saints announced the signing of 36-year-old tight end Jimmy Graham.

Was Graham returning to the Saints as a player after an eight-year absence from New Orleans and a one-year absence from the NFL? Or was the signing merely symbolic, maybe?

Although it was clarified quickly that Graham was signing a one-year contract to return to the NFL as a player, it turns out fans weren't the only ones momentarily confused. Graham's new teammate Tyrann Mathieu knew just as little as everyone else when he first saw Graham around the facility this week.

Several former Saints players had been around practices in a coaching capacity this summer, including former wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and offensive lineman Jahri Evans, who is now an assistant on staff. Mathieu assumed that was probably the case for Graham too when he spotted him in the equipment room.

"It was funny, man. I was in the equipment room and he kind of walked by, and we had some words," Mathieu said. "You know, Ted Ginn was here in the spring, and obviously I played against both of those guys, I played with Ted in the past. As we're talking, I'm looking at him, and I'm thinking he's about to coach or he's helping out with the coaching. So I asked him, 'Are you coaching?' He said, 'Nah, I'm playing.' He kind of surprised me with that one, but, I mean, he looks good, so I definitely, definitely feel like he can help us still."

Mathieu is 30 and has been in the league long enough to have played against Graham when he was with the Saints in his first stint. Graham caught nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals when Mathieu was a rookie in Arizona in 2013.

"Any time I see a guy that age that I played with or against, you know, 10 years ago, it kind of makes me feel old," Mathieu said. "Obviously it helps you appreciate where you're at and the opportunity that you still have playing football."