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Report: Date set for Graham grievance hearing

Graham Getty Images

While the NFL has become a 12-month-per-year source of news, a few dead spots have emerged on the calendar.  One of them will be filled this year with plenty of intrigue regarding Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.

According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, the hearing on Graham’s franchise-tag grievance has been set for June 17-18.  At that time, an arbitrator will consider evidence and arguments both for and against the notion that Graham is a receiver, not a tight end, for purposes of the franchise tag.

A ruling should come fairly quickly, since the issue is straightforward.  Under the CBA, a player gets tagged at the position where he participated in the most snaps in the prior year.  For Graham, the ultimate question becomes whether his snaps taken in the slot count as snaps taken as a tight end or as a receiver.

The Saints and the league will argue that tight ends routinely move around to other spots, but that tight ends are the only players who line up on a consistent basis next to the left or right tackle.  Graham and the NFLPA will contend that the relevant language of the labor deal should be applied as written, and that when Graham lines up in the slot, he’s a receiver not a tight end.

The ruling will be subject to appeal to a three-person panel.  A compromise is possible at any time, and a final ruling would be preferred by July 15, the deadline for signing Graham to a multi-year deal.

With more than $5 million in 2014 franchise-tag salary hinging on the outcome, the total difference in dollars over a four-year or five-year deal easily could be more than $20 million.

Meanwhile, any other team (except the Bills, who traded their 2015 first-round pick to Cleveland) can sign Graham to an offer sheet.  If the Saints don’t match, they’ll get a first-round pick in 2015 and 2016 from Graham’s new team.

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44 Responses to “Report: Date set for Graham grievance hearing”
  1. wisespeakersays says: May 13, 2014 9:53 AM

    I’m so glad Ghram isn’t on GOD’s chosen team, the Dallas Cowboys!!!!! He should stay with that lowly franchise the New Orleans Aints!!!! We will start a dynasty with at least 3 Super Bowls in the next 7 years! I can already taste our 2014 Super Bowl victory!

    #ThankGodImACowboysFan
    #WeHaveFiveYouHaveOne

  2. archersofmtdoom says: May 13, 2014 9:54 AM

    If you don’t like your position, you shouldn’t have been a tight end. Vernon Davis, Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, etc. all move all over the field, never see them labeled as receivers. Quit being greedy. Your team is already struggling to pay other players due to you & Brees, and now you deserve more? Please.

  3. archersofmtdoom says: May 13, 2014 9:57 AM

    That being said, the Titans could really use help at TE. Would love to sign this guy, but then I fear the fight over position would still ensue.

  4. wallydippins says: May 13, 2014 9:59 AM

    Drew Brees wants an explanation.

  5. sb44champs says: May 13, 2014 10:03 AM

    So glad I’m not a Cowboys fan lol… They’re success is WAY IN THE PAST !!!

  6. wisespeakersays says: May 13, 2014 10:06 AM

    #GodsTeam #DallasCowboysDynasty #WeOwnTheAints

  7. boobsmcgoo says: May 13, 2014 10:06 AM

    They will reach a long term deal before this date.

  8. areyouseriousrofl says: May 13, 2014 10:17 AM

    How many Cowboys fans does it take to change a lightbulb?

    ZERO, because they’ll all just stand around and talk about how great the old one was….

  9. stew48 says: May 13, 2014 10:18 AM

    I’m sure all commenters know that the tight end is usually lined up next to a tackle, and his purpose there is to provide, generally, more blocking effort. And, I’m sure all know that tight ends usually receive comments indicating that they excel at blocking more than receiving, and vice-versa. Nothing new there. With the advent of four receiver formations, the TE is often split. What is now being discussed is whether this particular TE has been split on so many of his assignments that he has actually become a receiver, primarily. You can bet all your beer money for a year that if Graham is successful, all of the regular TE’s will be counting the times they are split to see if they qualify. And, ALL of them will do so. What wasn’t mentioned was who is the three member panel for appeal? If it is three owners or GM’s, Graham is wasting his time and money. If it is Goodie and two associates, Graham is in need of a mental evaluation.

  10. archersofmtdoom says: May 13, 2014 10:21 AM

    Not a Saints or Cowboys fan, but the Cowboys troll is hilarious. You do realize your team lost 49-17 to the Saints last year? The Saints highest scoring game of the season. #dallasistheREALfactoryofsadness

  11. tacticaltonto says: May 13, 2014 10:25 AM

    If I were the Saints, I would counter the argument that he should be paid like a WR because he lines up as a WR by looking at his production by who he lines up against. He struggled when he was matched up against CBs (NE put Talib on him and he finished with 0 catches, SEA matched up their big corners on him and shut him down in the playoffs). If you can’t perform against elite corners on the outside then you should not be paid like WRs who can.

  12. boisestatewhodat says: May 13, 2014 10:33 AM

    Don’t forget about Thanksgiving a couple years back too…Romo has won a single playoff game in over 8 seasons. I think you’re trying to stir the pot but the thing is…the Cowgirl pot has been empty for well over a decade. No one gives the cowgirls a second thought when it comes to NFC power teams. Nice run in the 90s though…got me there.

  13. northlandwi says: May 13, 2014 10:36 AM

    If he wins the grievance hearing, will he need to return all his awards for a TE? Doesn’t accepting those awards imply that he sees himself as a TE and not as a WR? Perhaps he should take the fight to the union who agreed to these rules. No sympathy here.

  14. robf2010 says: May 13, 2014 10:39 AM

    “#WeOwnTheAints”

    Saints 49 – Cowboys 17

    40 first downs to 9

    625 yards to 193

    You might want to sell.

  15. chad504boy says: May 13, 2014 10:42 AM

    Certainties in Life:

    1. Mickey Loomis will do his best job possible in the interest of Mr. Benson’s pocket book to negotiate the most favorable deal possible while still getting Jimmy signed long term.

    2. Jimmy Graham will be resigned to a long term deal by the New Orleans Saints.

    3. Dez Bryant needs a babysitter.

    4. Jerry Jones has won his last super bowl as owner of the Cowboys.

  16. bradkaz96 says: May 13, 2014 10:43 AM

    Maybe Jairus Byrd will give you some of the money he got overpaid with Jimmy. Then you can both bond over being crybabies who got the franchise tag.

  17. weepingjebus says: May 13, 2014 10:45 AM

    If there’s anything this sport needs, it’s more lawyers.

  18. jc1958cool says: May 13, 2014 10:46 AM

    pay’em where you put em! if the saint’s want the production pay him for it

  19. clssylssy says: May 13, 2014 10:46 AM

    A lot of players these days play hybrid positions and
    this could be a landmark decision with repercussions throughout the league for players with upcoming contracts like Patrick Peterson and others like Tyrann Mathieu and Andre Ellington to name a few. The language in the CBA seems a little out-of-date for the times and was probably another one of those things that got hurried through to bring a speedy close to a pending lockout(and to the advantage of the owners). I would think that the Saints could reach a fair agreement with Graham and adjust his pay accordingly, as the argument could also be made that most tight ends block, which he doesn’t ,while some WRs do, as in the case of Larry Fitzgerald. I’m sure a lot of eyes will be on this issue as nothing in the league these days is cut and dry and each player’s situation is different. The fact remains that he is listed as a tight end on the roster, signed his contract as a tight end, and has gone to the Pro Bowl as a tight end which would make him for most purposes a tight end. By franchising him, I think the Saints were sending a message that he is on notice and can be replaced.

  20. keylimelight says: May 13, 2014 10:47 AM

    Re-designating a player after the fact will open up a Pandora’s box of contract challenges that would cause an avalanche of grievances.

    If the NFL is providing the so-called arbitrator(s), we best believe that they will decide in favor of the owners.

    So the CBA language may not be as clear cut as it appears to us laymen because the League [the owners] would not want to let that money issue get out of hand. They will find a way to identify a loop hole and close that sucker but good.

  21. jmblosser82 says: May 13, 2014 11:00 AM

    For starters the nflpa filed the motion. With unions I believe these types of moves are automatic, like appealing fines/suspensions. For other tight ends the result will only matter if they were franchised since they are already under contract or looking for a new contract/team. If a team does not want to pay a TE like a WR on a tag then line him up off the line

  22. justsaynotodrunktweeting says: May 13, 2014 11:03 AM

    I am a born and bread cowboys fan. As painful as it is for me and my family. We have to live with it. We are deflated every other Sunday because we don’t know if they are going to show up or not. JJ is just completely horrible. There is no light at the end of this tunnel. But my family I continue to support and suffer. That’s just the way it is. I’ve come to accept it. But to have these delusional cowboy supporters post ridiculous crap is embarrassing. Please stop it. We unfortunately haven’t done anything to be proud of since 1996.

  23. flannlv says: May 13, 2014 11:25 AM

    For the last time the Saints didn’t make the designation. The league does that. Also, it is the league that argues against the NFLPA, not the Saints.

  24. zackd2 says: May 13, 2014 11:29 AM

    May 13, 2014 10:47 AM
    Re-designating a player after the fact will open up a Pandora’s box of contract challenges that would cause an avalanche of grievances.

    If the NFL is providing the so-called arbitrator(s), we best believe that they will decide in favor of the owners.

    Terrell Suggs did it a few years who with DE v OLB, and they split the difference on the tag money. Not the first time it’s been challenged.

    Arbitrators are usually approved by both league/owners and players association.

  25. lengai says: May 13, 2014 11:35 AM

    Running backs frequently line up in receiver positions.

  26. duluthvikesfan says: May 13, 2014 11:39 AM

    Going by his playoff numbers last year, he should just take whats being offered and run like he stole it!

  27. thedano says: May 13, 2014 11:46 AM

    YOU’RE A TIGHT END!!!!

    next

  28. jimthebuilder27 says: May 13, 2014 11:47 AM

    If he were to simply take the franchise tag as a TE he’d make like $7 million this year. My paychecks, on the other hand, average $650 bi-weekly. My heart bleeds for ya big guy.

  29. twinfan24 says: May 13, 2014 11:49 AM

    So, if Graham isn’t a “TE”, shouldn’t all the players that don’t line up tight enough be removed from the salary calculations?

    The TE position has changed over the years and includes not lining up inside all the time. It is the nature of the position to not line up tight on every snap, regardless of the name of the position. Maybe call him an H-back instead.

  30. SBoy says: May 13, 2014 11:54 AM

    A- this is really only an issue for players that get tagged…

    But for the purposes of those who get tagged

    B-The number on their jersey or their listing by the franchise shouldn’t determine their position… The actual position that you play the most should. OR for “hybrid” players there ought to be a formula to calculate what % of time the player spent lining up at each position and adjust the value of the contract accordingly. That is objective and fair and not rocket science.

  31. campcouch says: May 13, 2014 11:58 AM

    If he wins,it’s going to be a sad day for TEs around the league. Skinflint owners are not going to pay TEs receiver money,so I bet they let their coaches know to line them up as tight ends more than as a WRs…or never on the outside. Back to blocking,chipping and checkdowns only.

  32. topcide says: May 13, 2014 12:05 PM

    Judge— what position do you play?

    Graham— T.E.

    judge- case closed.

  33. lukedunphysscienceproject says: May 13, 2014 12:22 PM

    There is zero chance another team signs him to an offer sheet. Collusion rules in the NFL and it is very important to the league that this case goes to arbitration.

    There are more and more of these hybrid WR/TE types coming into the league and the NFL wants to win this case to set the precedent for all future cases. It’s worth the risk for them.

    There is no chance they will allow another franchise to swoop in and prevent this from happening.

  34. lukedunphysscienceproject says: May 13, 2014 12:27 PM

    How about a team just designate all of it’s skill position players as tight ends no matter where they line up on the field, including QB? Think of the money they would save.

    Sound dumb? Of course it does.

    You know else sounds dumb? Saying a guy is a TE just because his team says he’s one despite the fact that he played WR almost 70% of the time and by the definition of the CBA signed by the owners, that means he should be tagged as a WR.

    Welcome the grey area, people. It’s not a black and white world. Compromise. Split the tag number and be done with it.

  35. justintuckrule says: May 13, 2014 12:54 PM

    He’s a receiver. If Graham told the Saints that he refuses to go out for passes and wants to stay on the line to block for Brees, the Saints would have a conniption.

  36. spicymudbugs says: May 13, 2014 1:13 PM

    Jimmy,
    Are you coached by the WR or TE coach?

  37. abusementland says: May 13, 2014 1:18 PM

    So if a RB catches more balls out of a backfield than he rushes, and they get franchised, would we pay them the WR number?

  38. SeenThisB4 says: May 13, 2014 1:23 PM

    Isn’t this moot? Hasn’t the deadline for tagging a player already past? If any other team really wanted him, they would have signed him or at least offered him a contract by now, before he gets designated a WR. They haven’t….what’s that tell ya Jimmy?

  39. boudinhider says: May 13, 2014 1:31 PM

    Loomis plays hard and I expect nothing less from Graham and his camp. This is a negotiation and all tools available should be used by either side. That being said I find it hard to believe he is going anywhere. The price is too steep. This is merely another round of betting at the poker table. And as a Saints fan I’d take those 2 picks in a heartbeat.

    Hey Cowboy fans, scoreboard and thanks for the coaches. Now get on back there to your yearly restructuring. Can’t wait to see that fancy new Tampa 2 y’all are gonna sneak up on everyone with. Week 4 little girls, it’s on.

  40. 6thsense10 says: May 13, 2014 2:27 PM

    abusementland…..

    To answer your question if a running back catches balls out the back field he would not be considered a wide receiver for purposes of the CBA because the CBA states that designation of position is based on where the player lines up the majority of the time. A running back that catches anything out the backfield is lined up as a running back. If he lines up the majority of the time in the slot or wide on the line then he would be considered a receiver under the language of the CBA.

  41. clssylssy says: May 13, 2014 2:34 PM

    Tony Gonzalez wrote the book you can bet that the grievance committee will be using. It’s not that Graham is all that unique, he actually was worthless against Seattle in blocking Richard Sherman which is what he should have been doing. This could be settled simply by including the same catch phrase that all employers use on the last line of any job description: “and other duties as needed”.

  42. 6thsense10 says: May 13, 2014 2:48 PM

    No owner will be dumb enough to demand their coaches only line a talented receiving tight end as a tight end. That short sightedness will limit their abilities to make the playoffs with millions on the line with each playoff game. Also this would apply only to teams that want to use the tight end tag. Elite tight ends like Graham will command more money on a long term contract than most wide receivers. So owners are going to sabotage their team’s chances at winning and collecting the millions of dollars that comes with winning and possibly hosting playoff games because they would have to designate their TE as a WR under the franchise tag? Pure silliness.

  43. sheepybrown says: May 13, 2014 5:19 PM

    Coming to Cleveland-thats why theres no panic over Josh Gordon.

  44. drunkadamschefter says: May 13, 2014 7:01 PM

    So that’s why the Browns got that extra 1st from Buffalo….

    We’ve got picks and cap to burn.

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