The NFL continues to be a deadline driven business, and the looming deadline for Jimmy Graham’s grievance regarding his franchise-tag designation continues to be the deadline that will drive a likely long-term deal for him.
“I think you hit it on the head yesterday,” Saints coach Sean Payton told PFT Live on Tuesday, referring to our item explaining that a deal is likely before April 22. “I think there is a talented tight end. There’s a team where we see a clear role for what he does, and I think anytime you hit this point in the season with a franchise player, you and I could map it out and the only little thing or hitch here is there might be a debate as to the position he plays. But that being said by the time we’re going into training camp he’ll be someone we’re throwing the ball to.”
The labor deal gives Graham 50 days to challenge the belief that he’s a tight end for tag purposes, from the March 3 application of the franchise tag. While $5.2 million on a one-year deal hangs in the balance, Graham’s camp (as we understand it) intends to attempt to fashion an argument that erroneous application of the tag invalidates it, making Graham a free agent.
As Payton said, it’s not likely to happen. The Saints and Graham are on track to work something out before Graham has to embark on a path that could lead to all sorts of unsavory consequences.
For the full Sean Payton interview from the league meetings in Orlando, click the box below.