The Ravens were able to sign tight end Dennis Pitta to a long-term deal, allowing them to avoid both using the franchise tag and fighting a battle about whether Pitta should be tagged as a wide receiver or a tight end.
It doesn’t look like the Saints will enjoy the same resolution to their contract impasse with Jimmy Graham. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team will place the franchise tag on Graham before Monday’s deadline.
The development is hardly surprising. The Saints haven’t hidden their plan to use the tag on Graham in the event they couldn’t reach a long-term deal and all reports about the negotiations have indicated that the two sides are far apart.
Assuming the Saints tag Graham and assuming he’s determined to be a tight end, there’s likely to be a grievance from Graham’s camp arguing that he should be tagged as a receiver. Graham often lines up split out from the line and there’s about a $5 million difference between the salaries on the two tags.
While that fight plays out, the rest of the league will be greeted with a thinned-out tight end market that includes Jermichael Finley, Dustin Keller and Brandon Pettigrew. Finley and Keller are both coming off serious injuries, however, and the rest of the group pales in comparison to Pitta and Graham.