What’s in a name? More than $5 million for Jimmy Graham.
An NFL arbitrator ruled that the Saints stud plays as a tight end and not a wide receiver today. By applying the franchise tag on the lanky hybrid as a tight end, the Saints can pay their playmaker around $7 million this season instead of the more than $12 million franchised receivers make.
“The NFLPA will review with Jimmy Graham the decision from Arbitrator Stephen Burbank which permits the player to be designated as a tight end for Franchise Tag purposes. We will advise Graham of his options and carefully determine next steps in this matter,” the NFL Players Association announced. “We will also continue to assist Graham and his representation as necessary to help the player reach a fair long-term deal with the New Orleans Saints.”
Graham argued that he lined up much more as a split end than a tight end in 2013. So, regardless of what position grouping he gathered with during team meetings or how he described himself on his Twitter account, the Saints used him as a wide receiver so they should pay him as a wide receiver.
Graham is expected to appeal. The Saints may attempt to use the new leverage to lock him into a long-term contract that would pay him more than the ruling schedules him to make but less than what he might have earned as a wide receiver.
Graham caught 86 balls for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns during the 2013 season.