All signs have been pointing to the Saints using their franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham for some time and now it’s official.
Graham took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to pass along the word that the team had informed him of their decision to use the tag, which means he joins Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and Jets kicker Nick Folk as confirmed recipients of tags this offseason.
Confirming it's officially Franchisefriday… TAG … I guess I'm it…—
Jimmy Graham (@TheJimmyGraham) February 28, 2014
That means the next order of business will be for the NFL Management Council to decide whether Graham should be tagged as a tight end or a wide receiver. Either decision is likely to trigger a grievance because of the nearly $5 million difference in salaries between the two positions and the team’s belief that Graham is a tight end despite rarely lining up tight to the line in their offensive sets.
Once tagged, players and teams have until July 15 to reach agreement on a long-term deal. Teams can rescind the tag before that time if players haven’t signed it, but it seems unlikely that the Saints would do that with Graham regardless of the final ruling on his salary.