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Brees says Graham is a tight end, not a receiver

Graham AP

As the Saints and tight end Jimmy Graham draw battle lines over whether tight end Jimmy Graham should be considered a tight end or a receiver for purposes of the franchise tag with $4.5 million hanging in the balance, quarterback Drew Brees has offered an opinion.

And Graham probably won’t like it.

“He’s a tight end,” Brees told Erik Kuselias of NBC Sports Radio.  “He’s a tight end. We’re able to do a lot of creative things with him, just like we’re able to do with a lot of our offensive personnel.   I feel like with Sean Payton, with our offensive system and we gear towards putting those guys in the best position to succeed according to their strengths.  Jimmy Graham is six-seven, 270, he runs like a deer, he can jump and catch, he’s so strong and physical, he plays with great fire and passion, he can play the line, he can split out.”

Graham definitely can do all those things, but for purposes of the NFL’s labor deal his classification as a tight end or a receiver will turn on the position at which he played the most snaps in 2013.  According to Pro Football Focus, Graham lined up as a tight end only 33 percent of the time in 2013.

In fairness to Brees, he likely didn’t intend his comments to be used against Graham’s ability to maximize his earning potential.  Especially since Brees and Graham are represented by the same agency, CAA.

Still, Brees’ explanation meshes with the likely argument from the Saints that the modern tight end position includes lining up in multiple spots, making the formula in the labor deal not as simple as counting up the snaps a guy takes lined up next to the tackle and the snaps he takes in the slot or split wide.

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43 Responses to “Brees says Graham is a tight end, not a receiver”
  1. Mr. Wright 212 says: Jan 29, 2014 12:07 PM

    Brees is a snake. He got his and now wants to keep Graham down from getting his.

  2. kd75 says: Jan 29, 2014 12:13 PM

    Bavaro was a tight end.

    Graham is a receiver. Never seen Graham block a defensive end.

  3. stew48 says: Jan 29, 2014 12:14 PM

    Re: 33%

    Were I the Saints, I would counter with info on how many actual WR’s lined up as TE’s. And, I think, that is what Brees meant–what is he actually?

  4. nflofficeadmin says: Jan 29, 2014 12:16 PM

    Which begs the question, why don’t TE get paid more.

  5. pfic15 says: Jan 29, 2014 12:17 PM

    Saints will kill future wins with a huge contract to Graham. Brees was enough…

  6. doubleogator says: Jan 29, 2014 12:18 PM

    As a Saints fan I wish Brees would have kept his mouth shut and just said that’s not a question for me to answer…

  7. clownsfan says: Jan 29, 2014 12:18 PM

    Brees needs to shut it. It’s obvious to EVERYBODY, including the Saints front office, knows this kid is primarily a WR. Time to pay him.

  8. joeflaccoallday says: Jan 29, 2014 12:19 PM

    Drew only saying this because he wants some cap room leftover for another extension. #NewOrleansTaints

  9. touchdownroddywhite says: Jan 29, 2014 12:20 PM

    Jimmy Graham demands an explanation.

  10. coachjjo says: Jan 29, 2014 12:22 PM

    With the season Brees has had since receiving big bucks he would be wise to keep the GM hat off and let the powers that be figure that out. Brees looks for Jimmy like Stafford looks for Megatron. Therefore he’s a receiver. And probably our leading Receiver.

  11. glynners says: Jan 29, 2014 12:23 PM

    Re 33%

    How many of those snaps out wide was he put there purely to confuse the D.

    Would like to see how many times they throw the ball his way when split out wide

  12. jstottredsoxfan says: Jan 29, 2014 12:23 PM

    Trust me…. Brees know whom the “tight ends” and “receivers” are… he’s effed the receivers with his passes and the tight ends just won’t “give him any” leeway. Brees is just trying to keep Graham’s pay down so he won’t have to cut his own salary. Brees is a D.Bag!

  13. johnclaytonsponytail says: Jan 29, 2014 12:24 PM

    Who cares what they tag him at? Make him in restricted and see who bites for his services. We need those pics more than we need him.

  14. zeedoubleyou says: Jan 29, 2014 12:25 PM

    I hated it when Brett Favre commented on Javon Walker’s contract situation, and I hate that Brees is weighing in here just the same.

    How can a QB making top dollar expect to tell his teammates to take less $$$ without looking like a hypocrite?

  15. johnclaytonsponytail says: Jan 29, 2014 12:28 PM

    He was drafted as a TE. He went to the Probowl as a TE. He was selected to the all pro team as a TE. He is a TE.

  16. Dexter Morgan says: Jan 29, 2014 12:29 PM

    Wow, every time Brees speaks I dislike him more. Back during the strike he was arguably the most vocal player in terms of getting the most money he could get. I dont think badly of him for that, I agree with that position. But now that he got his, the comment literally says Graham shouldnt be getting as much as Graham wants. Are you kidding me Drew? Just shut up and let Graham deal with his own contract situation. Maybe Graham should be demanding an explanation from you, you clown

  17. spicymudbugs says: Jan 29, 2014 12:36 PM

    A big part of the reason why Graham lines up in the slot is because he’s useless as a blocker. He’s not a WR but a TE who plays in the slot.
    “Slot receiver (Y or SL): A less-formal name given to receivers in addition to split ends and flankers (for example, tight-ends who line up wide).”

  18. lover4saints says: Jan 29, 2014 12:39 PM

    Everyone is blowing this way out of proportion! I think jimmy should be a
    tightend! Hes broken so many records while being tightend, If he stays a tightend he will probably go down as one of the best tight ends in the nfl

  19. bucrightoff says: Jan 29, 2014 12:50 PM

    Jimmy Graham is TINO: Tight-end in Name Only.

  20. briang123 says: Jan 29, 2014 12:54 PM

    Brees got his money and doesn’t care about anyone else. His true colors have really shown since he won the Super Bowl.

  21. daysend564 says: Jan 29, 2014 12:57 PM

    Brees held fast to the lockout so lower players can get more money. He came back to sign a contract that ensured the lower players on his team can not make more money. Now, to ensure that others have more money, he thinks that Graham should share with others.

  22. pw1265 says: Jan 29, 2014 12:58 PM

    Wow, sticking your nose in somewhere it doesnt belong Drew???????

    not much of a team player, how about cutting your salary in half so Graham gets his???

    PATHETIC!!!!

  23. noladat says: Jan 29, 2014 1:06 PM

    Ok people how many catches till a 3rd down back get paid like a wr?

    He is a tight end should be paid as one. The most of any of te!

    Should that extra tackle that lines up as te on short yardage plays get te money?

    Where you line him up has more to do with getting him the favorable coverage that will make him the highest paid te in the league it does not make him a wr.

  24. open1337 says: Jan 29, 2014 1:09 PM

    He answered the question with the truth. He could offer his opinion and say convert him to wide out but…As if that’s going to make the Saints shell out more. And they’re in salary cap hell anyways.

  25. heisthejuan says: Jan 29, 2014 1:12 PM

    Keeping his mouth shut has never been one of Drew’s strengths.

  26. bucklezzzman says: Jan 29, 2014 1:35 PM

    Y’all are really all clowns if you really believe that Brees did this intentionally, so Graham won’t get big money, as if this is going to hinder the Saints handing him a rich contract anyway

  27. Mr. Wright 212 says: Jan 29, 2014 1:38 PM

    Amazing how people commenting here don’t see this for what it is. Toeing the company line. Pay scales are different for tight ends (lower) than wide receivers. Why in the WORLD would Brees even comment on this except he is either willingly toeing the company line, or was put up to it by the front office?

  28. elgranderojo79 says: Jan 29, 2014 1:43 PM

    I think the franchise tag is a little antiquated for certain positions and TE is one of them. The TE position has changed quite a bit since the installation of the franchise tag. I think a guy who is that big a part of your passing offense is worth more than the TE designation. If I were Graham I wouldn’t play for the TE tag level. Sit out until week 10 or whatever is necessary to get your year of service. The Saints are obviously not showing him any loyalty so why shouldn’t he return the same.

    A player should get paid what he is worth and I think this is a case that transcends the traditional norms of the position.

  29. contract says: Jan 29, 2014 1:44 PM

    It’s in his interest to keep Jimmy Graham around on the cheap.

  30. DrSteveBrule says: Jan 29, 2014 1:58 PM

    He’s listed as a tight end. He went to the Pro Bowl as a tight end. If you don’t want to be a tight end then just change positions you turkey.

    For your health.

  31. meccaho says: Jan 29, 2014 2:09 PM

    Is Darren Sproles a WR since he catches way more passes than he runs.

    Like someone said, drafted a TE, broke records as a TE, went to pro bowl as a TE. This is all his agent and stupid fans wanting the saints to have to pay more to hurt them, as well as media loving drama.

  32. godofwine330 says: Jan 29, 2014 2:24 PM

    It doesn’t matter what Brees or anyone else says. He lined up as a receiver 67% of the time so that is all that matters with him getting paid. The Saints will eventually cave because they have no choice in the matter as the CBA states that he gets paid where he lines up and if the Saints weren’t smart/slick/crafty enough to line him up at TE for 51% of the time during the season then it is on then and they must pay up.

    He has the potential to be even greater than Shannon Sharpe and possibly the G.O.A.T. Tony Gonzalez if he keeps at this pace. The Saints will try to screw him, but Graham walks softly and carries a copy of the CBA in his back pocket and eats breakfast 300 yards from a bunch of Saints management who are trained to cheat him.

  33. thestrategyexpert says: Jan 29, 2014 2:29 PM

    It’s not about where you line up, it’s about what position you are taking the snap as. Pro Football Focus isn’t likely going to have the same numerical breakdown as the Saints. Do they see what these plays are called in the playbook and what the position title was on the spec sheet? I doubt it, they are just guessing. If they say he lined up as a TE 33% of the time, I’m guessing the Saints will claim a higher number.

    There’s also a lot of opportunity to take snaps as an H-Back, which is more similar to a TE than any other position. So a lot of those non-TE snaps are not going to be WR snaps. 33%, or something slightly higher, is enough to be his primary position. Nothing else can top that number or they wouldn’t have classified him as a TE.

  34. electstat says: Jan 29, 2014 2:34 PM

    Just another case of a game with too many rules.

  35. princeopus says: Jan 29, 2014 2:46 PM

    let him go,too big a cap hit,bye bye jimmy,go disappear in another teams big games

  36. rcali says: Jan 29, 2014 4:00 PM

    Wow, Brees a company man I guess. That should be a fun huddle come mini-camps.

  37. kathleenturnersoverdrive says: Jan 29, 2014 4:28 PM

    You people really like to hate Drew Brees. If any of you had an objective bone in your body you would know the quote means absolutely nothing without knowing what the question was that he was answering.

    Not to mention he will get a long term deal before he gets the Tag anyway.

  38. charger383 says: Jan 29, 2014 8:54 PM

    Tight ends deserve as much as WR, good Tight ends more

  39. dubblelznhell says: Jan 30, 2014 1:31 AM

    Pay him 67% of the average wide receivers salary and 33% of the average tight end salary.

  40. tahnoonzee says: Jan 30, 2014 6:38 AM

    Danny Woodhead is a WR too.

  41. rwhit1980 says: Jan 30, 2014 3:58 PM

    Jimmy Graham is a TE. He has been listed as TE his entire career including this season and never tried to change it only when it comes to a contract. He often talks about how he enjoys going against Tony Gonzalez so he can learn from one of the greatest TE in league history. I don’t ever remember him talking about learning from a WR. The Saints RB’s also had more reception than the WR corp excluding Colston. Does that mean that they should be considered TE. Jimmy Graham creates matchup problems when he is in the slot and out wide. That either takes a LB out the middle of the field or matches him up on a CB that is usually drastically smaller. I can’t blame Drew for stating what Graham has been his entire career until it comes to making money.

  42. rwhit1980 says: Jan 30, 2014 4:03 PM

    Gronkowski’s record breaking season as a TE he had more receptions, yards, and TDs than Graham. He signed a contract to become the richest TE in the league. I am a Saints fan and I love what Jimmy Graham brings to the Saints but if Graham didn’t even beat out Gronkowski in one of those departments how is he going to argue that he is a WR? His lining up in the slot and split wide shows how lacking the Saints were this year at WR.

  43. erskine95 says: Jan 31, 2014 3:52 AM

    Drew said nothing wrong jimmy is a tight end and anyone knows football knows hes a tight end and what Drew says is not gonna make any difference to how much Micky Loomis pays jimmy.

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