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.