Jimmy Graham had a fairly good case to be declared a wide receiver for franchise-tag purposes, just not good enough.
Graham, who refers to himself as a tight end on his Twitter bio, will be given the tight end franchise tag after arbitrator Stephen Burbank ruled against Graham and with the Saints. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported the ruling and it was confirmed by multiple sources. A wide receiver franchise tag would have meant a $12.3 million salary this season. Now Graham will get about $7.05 million on the franchise tag as a tight end. Yes, those are huge numbers either way, but I don't think many of you lost out on $5 million today, as Graham did.
Graham argued that he was in a receiver position on about 67 percent of his snaps with the Saints. He's certainly not a traditional on-the-line tight end. But there was more evidence that he should be considered a tight end ... including that Twitter bio he never changed.
Why was Jimmy Graham ruled a TE? He’s in TE meetings, #Saints drafted him as a TE… and yes, I’m told his twitter bio is in the ruling— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 2, 2014
One point in the arbitrator's ruling, according to NFL.com's Albert Breer against Graham was that on a majority of his plays he lined up within 4 yards of the offensive line, which seems to be an arbitrary figure.
Per decision -- "Since Mr. Graham was so aligned (w/in 4 yds of OL) for a majority of plays during 2013 League Year", NFLPA grievance denied— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 2, 2014
The ruling should have a wide-ranging impact on future cases, especially with so many players being used in hybrid roles that are fairly new to the NFL.
The best thing for the Saints and Graham, who now has 10 days to appeal, will be if the two sides can agree on a long-term deal that meets somewhere in the middle of those two franchise values. Graham had 86 catches, 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. Graham could choose to not sign the franchise-tag contract and hold out. The Saints want their talented star there for the long term, and Graham wants to be paid a little more than he is. It seems like a multi-year deal makes sense for everyone.
But, before that's worked out, Graham is officially considered a tight end. At least he doesn't need to change his Twitter bio.
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