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Report: Saints will use franchise tag on Jimmy Graham

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

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.

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47 Responses to “Report: Saints will use franchise tag on Jimmy Graham”
  1. sixchr says: Feb 28, 2014 2:00 PM

    Surprise?

  2. thepftpoet says: Feb 28, 2014 2:00 PM

    Top 5 Tight Ends in the NFL :

    1. Kyle Rudulph
    2. Jimmy Graham
    3. Rob Gronkowski
    4. Julius Thomas
    5. Vernon Davis

  3. tk429 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:01 PM

    Yes, a Tight End does line up out wide much of the time in today’s NFL, but a WR very rarely lines up as an inline blocker. Case closed.

  4. shaggytoodle says: Feb 28, 2014 2:04 PM

    Get paid 7 million dollars for 1 year.

    Still have the courage to gripe about it.

    The Saints should pay him, I think the Saints have some decent young WRs that Brees can elevate their level of play.

  5. chargerdillon says: Feb 28, 2014 2:06 PM

    That’s a lot of money to spend on a guy who had zero presence against the Seahawks.

    Consider the fact you’re probably going to continue to see the Seahawks if you make it to the playoffs. Spending a lot of money for a guy who puts up big numbers in the regular season.

    I don’t disagree with the move as he’s become the most valuable weapon to Brees, but overspending for a guy who will be a non-factor against other playoff teams is a signal of playoff failure to come.

  6. rolanddeschain17 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:10 PM

    Graham’s argument should be “I suck at blocking so you never have me do it, therefore I really am a WR.”

    He’s also a wuss in terms of physicality, look at both times he played in Seattle in 2013. He should be ashamed to be labeled a tight end, he’s not tough like Gronkowski.

  7. chawk12thman says: Feb 28, 2014 2:11 PM

    Still not over……They can continue to negotiate a long term deal. This just buys them time as the team couldn’t let the designation period end and he get into Free Agency period on March 11th.

    I think he ends up with a contract and this issue (WR/TE?) remains unresolved for another year, at least.

  8. travelingwillies says: Feb 28, 2014 2:12 PM

    If he wins the grievance and gets a WR tag , the saints will be in huge trouble. They will be over the cap big time and be forced to cut a lot of key players

  9. bostonian13 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:13 PM

    Good pass catcher, horrible HORRIBLE blocker. Basically is a wide receiver.

    Ask Talib or the Seahawks defense what they think of Jimmy.

  10. 619sdfan4life says: Feb 28, 2014 2:15 PM

    Kyle Rudolph production last year hardly makes him a top 5 TE. And Rob “I’m to busy drinking and partying and getting hurt” Gronkowski and another horrible year. So remove them off your top 5 bro.

  11. mancave001 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:16 PM

    He’s listed as a TE. He’s always been on the roster as a TE. He’s a frickin tight end Come on, Graham.

  12. johnnyjagfan says: Feb 28, 2014 2:16 PM

    Graham is worth 2 first rounders. I’d take him in the first round anytime and he’s young so he’ll last. Most first round picks are 50/50 prospects anyway. Graham is the real deal.

  13. trickyrickyspielman says: Feb 28, 2014 2:17 PM

    I am a huge Vikings fan. Beyond huge, delusional in fact, but will people please stop it with this Vikings are the greatest dynasty and everyone will copy them or putting Rudolph* at number one for Tight Ends in the league. At least wait until they do something.

  14. haterade999 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:17 PM

    Vikings fans shouldn’t be allowed to post until they win another game.

  15. cowpiesnotcowboys says: Feb 28, 2014 2:21 PM

    He’s clearly a tight end. Lining up at times where slot receivers line up is a core part of what tight ends do.

  16. zack2482 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:28 PM

    In a play book the WR is either an X, Z, A, but never a Y. So if the playbook labels his position a Y then he’s a TE. As someone else pointed out, you don’t see a WR in a 3 point stance and playing next to a tackle. I don’t think he has a chance to win the argument.

  17. davidm1886 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:31 PM

    The modern tight end does line up off the line more often and he should in my opinion be tagged as such but the CBA is black and I think a mediator in arbitration would look at % of plays he is not on the line and rule in favor of Graham and give him the wide receiver designation

  18. stataddict says: Feb 28, 2014 2:36 PM

    Graham lined up just 292 times as an in-line tight end. He lined up 587 times in the slot or split wide.

    In the past, a player’s use in the slot has defined them as a wide receiver (Welker, Edelman, Stokley, etc).

    The Saints will have a hard time getting an arbitrator to rule that the past practice of classifying slot receivers as wide receivers should be overturned solely because of Jimmy Graham’s size.

  19. tooz72 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:37 PM

    don’t touch Jimmy!!!

  20. pillowporkers says: Feb 28, 2014 2:37 PM

    A lot of people say “well Jimmy Graham lines up 2/3 at WR”

    Name one WR that plays even one play out of a three point stance all year?

  21. thatstinks says: Feb 28, 2014 2:40 PM

    If given te dough – 6.7 mil
    If given wr dough – 11.5 mil

    For as valuble as the modern day “basketball player” tight end is that really is a unfair spread in pay . JG is as big a matchup problem as the NFL has . This is kind of the problem with the franchise tag . Maybe it would benefit him just to stay in third gear and try to limit injury so he can get his money in the open market & he will get his money .

  22. bobby2478 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:40 PM

    This was already discussed earlier this week on PFT. Teams only apply the franchise tag to a player, they don’t say which position (tender) the tag will result in. The League office does that.

    So the Saints will tag Graham, and the league will determine what that tender should be and which position it is for. If the league classifies Graham as a TE and thus that is the tender, Graham would then file a grievance.

    So the whole WR/TE classification is outside of the Saints hands.

  23. cunningben says: Feb 28, 2014 2:43 PM

    Kyle Ruldoloph is in a class of his own. He may go down in history as the best tight end of this generation.

  24. davemvh says: Feb 28, 2014 2:44 PM

    Hes gonna look good in a Patriots uniform,and ill bet you he learns to block while hes there also,or he will sit.

  25. datdude84 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:44 PM

    Did somebody actually bash graham for not playing well against seattle twice and then say he isn’t tough like gronk? The same gronk that is made of marshmellows and hasn’t been healthy in a couple of years??

  26. 6thsense10 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:50 PM

    Man I can’t wait till an arbitrator rules on this and cites the LEGALLY BINDING CBA: which states the tag is based on where a player lines up the majority of the time. If you are lining up and utilizing your TE as a wide receiver the majority of the time the again I cannot stress this enough…LEGALLY BINDING CBA states you must tag the player on where he lined up the MAJORITY of the time. If the owners and or NFL management didn’t like that clause they should have negotiated out the CBA. It comes down to the CBA. If anyone on here can point out any language in the CBA section for placing the franchise tag on a player then please by all means share. The only reason teams can even put the franchise tag on a player is because again it is in the LEGALLY BINDING CBA. If you all want to ignore the portion of the CBA that regulates how a team applies the tag why not take it a step further and just say Graham should ignore the tag all together and put his services out to the highest bidder. Let both parties move on then right? Besides as the rest of you alluded to he got shut down by Seattle so obviously his 1200+ receiving yards and 16tds don’t mean squat right? Let him walk.

  27. seatownballers says: Feb 28, 2014 2:55 PM

    Jim-me Graham is hurting his own team. Their defense is losing key guys over this

  28. stataddict says: Feb 28, 2014 2:55 PM

    There are a lot of people posting here that really don’t have a solid understanding of collective bargaining agreements, including the application of past practice and the standards to which an independent arbitrator must apply.

    When the NFL ruled that the application of the franchise tag to Wes Welker in 2012 by the New England Patriots resulted in Welker being granted the average of the top 5 wide receivers, they established a precedent that snaps played from the slot would count towards being credited as playing as a wide receiver.

    Graham’s representatives can take that to an arbitrator and the NFL won’t have a leg to stand on.

    – It doesn’t make a difference that the playbook lists Graham as a “Y”.
    – It doesn’t make a difference that he blocked in-line on 1/3 of his snaps.
    – It doesn’t make a difference that he went to the pro bowl as a TE.

    The only thing that matters is the language in the CBA that relates to the Franchise Tag and the past practice of counting slot receivers as wide receivers.

  29. fbjunkiedc says: Feb 28, 2014 2:57 PM

    Top 5 all around tight ends actually look like this:

    1. Vernon Davis
    2. Jason Witten
    3. Jimmy Graham
    4. Kyle Rudolph
    5. Julius Thomas

    HM: cameron, gronk, daniels,

    Jimmy has great hand’s but lacks the blocking skills and gronk had two great year’s and can’t stay healthy.

  30. trollaikman8 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:58 PM

    Gronk may be fragile but he plays at a fast pace and takes a beating because Billicheat/Brady don’t know how to tap the brakes.

    Graham on the other hand flexes way too much. When Brees relies on him in a hostile environment (Seattle 2x), dude comes up empty like a scrub. He wants $60M? Brees can create another Graham just like Peyton created Julius Thomas (and before him, Tamme / D.Clarke).

    I for one thoroughly enjoyed watching Graham get his head caved in by Chancellor and Seattle…the ultimate measuring stick for any WR or TE. Ask Vernon Davis.

  31. musicman495 says: Feb 28, 2014 3:07 PM

    Are all you geniuses who say Jimmy Graham cannot block the same people who said Deion Sanders could not tackle? You were right, but I don’t see that it hurt Deion on the way to the Hall of Fame.

    Blocking tight ends are a dime a dozen. Guys who do what Jimmy Graham do are once every ten years. As for the games vs the Seahawks, the guy has been playing football all of four years, and the Seahawks did not allow any other tight ends to play any better. Assuming he stays with New Orleans, my money is on Graham getting better, and Payton, Brees, and Graham coming up with a game plan the next time the two teams play to free him up more.

  32. iberiasaint says: Feb 28, 2014 3:10 PM

    In the league as whole, considering ALL TE’s, what percentage of the time did they line up in the traditional TE position compared to slot/WR? Is Jimmy Graham atypical as to where he lines up? Is he about like other TE’s in this regard?

  33. prideof10000lakes says: Feb 28, 2014 3:11 PM

    Bounty gate karma.

    Now even their own team can’t get along.

  34. ranlgon says: Feb 28, 2014 3:28 PM

    Although he is listed as a TE that can play a WR position, Graham could make the argument that he is a WR that has the size to play the TE position.

    As others have noted, he plays most of his snaps at the WR position and he sucks at blocking at TE.

    Gronk and Hernandez (when he was playing) of the Patriots are a good example of the difference between a true TE and a TE playing the WR position. Gronk catches and blocks the majority of his snaps from the in-line TE position. Hernandez was lined up mostly like Graham at the WR spot.

    Some QB’s in college become WR in the NFL. Edelman of the Patriots is an example. Graham could make the argument that he may have been drafted as a TE but the Saints use him mostly as a WR.

  35. sc5000 says: Feb 28, 2014 3:47 PM

    But mah muh mah wr dont line up as tight ends! You’re right they dont. Guess what, that has nothing to do with the CBA!

  36. miamisaint3255 says: Feb 28, 2014 3:52 PM

    saints will sign graham to long term deal and he is going to get paid more than any other TE and more like top tier WR money. The deal will help with cap because it will be spread out. The franchise tag question is not really that important. Had to be tagged to keep him on the team and out of reach of other teams, while negotiations continue. Media makes too much of a deal out of the tag. Experts in the media know this, but it becomes story because lots of folks click on headlines that seem exciting and listen / watch to sports shows that talk about exciting stuff, like whether saints will keep graham, as if such a decision is on tap for this week. Saints are keeping graham and will pay the man well and it will bring cap relief for this year rather than hurt the cap. Tag is just a necessary step in the process of getting a long term deal done. Same as with brees not too long ago. He will get paid more than 6.5 million per year but saints should not pay and won’t pay 10 million +, in my opinion.

  37. miamisaint3255 says: Feb 28, 2014 3:54 PM

    I am thinking 9 million per year is about right.

  38. seattle2toronto12thmanconnection says: Feb 28, 2014 3:54 PM

    Maybe if Jimmy wins his grievance, Seattle can tag Golden Tate as a tight end. He sure as hell run-blocks better and more than Graham. A lot tougher to.

  39. blackwell72 says: Feb 28, 2014 3:59 PM

    He’s listed as a TE in Madden… That makes him a TE in my book.

  40. pearlms says: Feb 28, 2014 3:59 PM

    The official diagnosis for New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham is a partially torn plantar fascia. It hurts every bit as much as it sounds like it should. Here is what I wrote about the condition when another tight end, Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers, suffered a similar injury in 2010:

    Normal humans are barely able to walk, let alone engage in athletic activity, after such an injury. The plantar fascia is the fibrous tissue along the undersurface of the foot which runs from the heel to the ball of the foot and reinforces the arch. The plantar fascia is placed under tension every time the foot hits the ground as the body weight is loaded through the leg. Imagine now that the tissue is damaged, the fibers are torn and frayed and every step tugs further, weakening that already impaired foundation. The pain is nothing less than excruciating. … This is not one of those “uncomfortable” conditions an athlete can simply push through, especially when running, pivoting and pushing off is integral to the position.
    ESPN

  41. doubleogator says: Feb 28, 2014 4:41 PM

    I would pay to watch all of these posters calling a 6’7″ 260 NFL football player a “wuss” to his face, and then see who the real wuss is…

  42. ryanaammess says: Feb 28, 2014 5:21 PM

    I dont know how anyone could side with management in this situations.

  43. jetsjetsjetsnow says: Feb 28, 2014 5:50 PM

    Of course it’s where you line up on the field bros. Who cares how he is listed by the Saints… X,Y, J, K, L, M, N, O, P…. I don’t condone ripping off a man’s earnings potential even if he is a gazillionaire.

    I hope he sucks up all the cap space available and the Jets beat you down again next season in the playoffs..!

  44. warrendeluca says: Feb 28, 2014 6:11 PM

    There are a lot of people posting here that really don’t have a solid understanding of collective bargaining agreements, including the application of past practice and the standards to which an independent arbitrator must apply.

    When the NFL ruled that the application of the franchise tag to Wes Welker in 2012 by the New England Patriots resulted in Welker being granted the average of the top 5 wide receivers, they established a precedent that snaps played from the slot would count towards being credited as playing as a wide receiver.

    Graham’s representatives can take that to an arbitrator and the NFL won’t have a leg to stand on.

    – It doesn’t make a difference that the playbook lists Graham as a “Y”.
    – It doesn’t make a difference that he blocked in-line on 1/3 of his snaps.
    – It doesn’t make a difference that he went to the pro bowl as a TE.

    The only thing that matters is the language in the CBA that relates to the Franchise Tag and the past practice of counting slot receivers as wide receivers.

    * * * * * * *

    What exactly did that ruling say?

    If it said that all snaps at the slot count towards WR, then Graham’s a WR.

    But what if it recognized that a player can line up at various spots on the field other than split wide, including the slot, and still be playing the WR position? If that logic is applied to the TE position, then Graham’s a TE.

    Or it may have just said that slot receiver isn’t a separate position for purposes of the franchise tag because it’s not one of positions listed in the CBA.

  45. kingbrees9 says: Feb 28, 2014 7:17 PM

    This wouldent happen if he would take a reasonable contract :) now take your 7 mil and be happy

  46. dodohead418 says: Feb 28, 2014 8:24 PM

    AND the question beings when will Graham finally be paid!

  47. Vim says: Feb 28, 2014 8:43 PM

    Jimmy does not like all these references to the Seattle games.

    Jimmy’s getting angry.

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