The New Orleans Saints applied the franchise tag to Jimmy Graham last week, but it was unclear if it was a tight end or receiver designation.
According to a press release by the NFL, Graham received the non-exclusive franchise tag as a tight end on Monday.
Now the debate can really begin.
Graham is slated to earn $7,053,000 as tight end instead of $12,132,000 as a receiver because of that franchise tag designation. He is expected to file a grievance claiming he should be considered a wide receiver.
The non-exclusive designation means Graham is free to negotiate a contract with another team, but that squad would be forced to give up two first-round picks as compensation.
Graham and the Saints have until July 15 to work out a contract. If an agreement is not reached by July 15, Graham can only play under the franchise tag with the Saints or sit out. The last day to sign a franchise tag tender is Nov. 11.
The good news for both sides is they have plenty of time to work on a long-term deal. Graham prefer to get paid like a receiver, but a $7 million contract in 2014 is not a bad insult. His new contract will likely exceed the six-year, $53 million extension New England’s Rob Gronkowski signed in 2012, which made him the highest paid tight end in league history.
There is nothing wrong with Graham fighting for more money, but the Saints are not incorrect for drawing a line in the sand.
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