As the Saints and tight end Jimmy Graham prepare for an inevitable showdown on the question of whether Graham is a tight end or receiver for franchise-tag purposes, the Saints have some good news.
The Saints apparently won’t be risking an outcome that includes Graham becoming a unrestricted free agent.
There had been a school of thought in league circles that, if the Saints tender Graham as a tight end and Graham successfully proves that he’s a receiver under the standard contained in Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the labor deal, the third-party resolving the issue could declare that the Saints swung and missed, and that they don’t get another chance to tag Graham the right way.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who previously reported that if the Saints tender Graham as a tight end he’ll immediately file a grievance arguing that he’s actually a receiver, now admits that the Saints wouldn’t actually be tendering Graham at any specific position at all.
Per Rapoport, the standard letter informing the player of the use of the franchise tag doesn’t designate the position at which he’s being tendered.
Moreover, a league source tells PFT that the Saints would indeed tag Graham generally, and that the league would then determine whether he’s tendered as a tight end or as a receiver.
The initial designation comes, as we understand the process, from the NFL’s Management Council. So if the Management Council decides Graham is a tight end, Graham and the NFLPA would then challenge the designation. If Graham wins, the designation presumably would be altered without the Saints having to re-issue the tag.
None of this stops Graham from arguing that the remedy for an erroneous franchise-tender designation isn’t changing the number to the higher amount but scuttling the tag completely. Still, if the Saints don’t specifically tag Graham as a tight end, that argument becomes more difficult.