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NFL, Saints push new argument regarding Graham grievance

Graham Getty Images

With Jimmy Graham’s grievance approaching, the NFL and/or the Saints apparently have been trying to make their case for Graham to be considered a tight end, not a receiver, for franchise-tag purposes by leaking quotes and other information to the media.

Recently, an unnamed management-side source ripped Graham’s position in anonymous quotes to Mike Triplett, who covers the team for ESPN.com.  The anonymous management-side source (let’s all remember this specific example the next time anyone with the league office complains about the use of unnamed sources) called Graham’s position a “naked cash grab.”  (Somewhere, someone has gotten the idea for HBO’s first game show.)

Now, someone apparently has sold Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune on the notion that snaps taken by Graham in the slot shouldn’t count as participation as a receiver if Graham isn’t being covered by a cornerback.

In an article that reads a lot more like a closing argument for the Saints’ effort to save $5.2 million in 2014 salary (and a lot more over the long-term deal for which the 2014 salary would be the starting point), Holder harps on various factors that are irrelevant to the question that a system arbitrator will resolve — whether Graham participated in more snaps as a receiver than as a tight end in 2013.

Whether a safety or a cornerback or a linebacker or a defensive end or a nose tackle covers Graham doesn’t matter.  What matters is whether he participated in more plays as a receiver or as a tight end.  What that precisely means isn’t known, thanks to the ambiguity of the labor deal on that point.

Indeed, the issue remains far less clear than Triplett’s or Holder’s sources are making it out to be.  If it were that simple, the Packers would have held firm with Jermichael Finley in 2012, and the Titans wouldn’t have decided to not even risk the fight with Jared Cook in 2013, applying no tag to him at all.

With the Graham grievance moving to formal arbitration, the NFL and the Saints need to make strong, forceful arguments to support their view that Graham is a tight end.  After all, if Graham wins Commissioner Roger Goodell and/or Saints owner Tom Benson may have some pointed questions for whoever it was that failed to account for the evolution of the tight end position when signing off on the formula for determining a franchise player’s appropriate tender — especially in light of the pre-2011 fight between the Ravens and Terrell Suggs over whether he’s a linebacker or a defensive end.

Of course, the effort to sell aggressively the case against Graham’s “naked cash grab” to the media also has plenty to do with P.R.  Articles like Triplett’s and Holder’s paint Graham as unrealistic and greedy, putting pressure on him to agree to terms that reflect tight end compensation, not receiver pay.  It’s hard not to wonder whether Graham, who has taken the high road throughout this process, eventually will realize what’s going on and push back.

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87 Responses to “NFL, Saints push new argument regarding Graham grievance”
  1. mburkett1980 says: Jun 13, 2014 10:48 AM

    How could Holder’s factors be irrelevant when even you yourself have indicated that the definition of a tight end is unknown. What Holder is pointing out is that even though Graham is a tight end who lines up all over the field, he’s still being treated as a TIGHT END by the defense, not a WR.

    How on Earth is that possibly irrelevant to this sort of debate?

  2. kissmytaintpatriotsrule says: Jun 13, 2014 10:50 AM

    I don’t agree with Graham’s postion but I also wouldn’t leave 5 million dollars on the table.

  3. cueghost says: Jun 13, 2014 10:50 AM

    I’m really starting to hope that Graham never plays another down for those jive turkeys!!

  4. ananonymoussource says: Jun 13, 2014 10:52 AM

    What??

  5. kamthechancellor says: Jun 13, 2014 10:52 AM

    Jimmy is going to lose this one.

  6. jswheeler says: Jun 13, 2014 10:53 AM

    The NFL just come out of this looking like a bully over 5 mil. That from an industry who rakes in over 5 billion in revenue/year.

  7. pawpaw46 says: Jun 13, 2014 10:53 AM

    Ask Jimmy what position he plays…

  8. bigjdve says: Jun 13, 2014 10:54 AM

    Has Graham taken the high road? I mean he is the one with the grievance. He is a TE, he calls himself a TE, he garners records, awards, and accolades as a TE.

    If he wants to be paid like a WR, he needs only to change his position. He can do that, then he won’t ever line up at WR. I think that when that happens that he won’t do as well, and he won’t make nearly as much money.

    People keep talking about how his numbers are similar to the top WRs in the game. That might be true, but that doesn’t make him as good. He has the benefit of a really good QB, he also is covered by LBs and Safeties who are slower than the CBs out there. I wonder how well he would do when being covered by the #1 DB on teams instead of # 3 or #4.

    I get it, wanting more. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make as much as you can, I even get wanting to be paid like the position you have spent some time in. However, if you want to be paid like the other position, you need to take the other position.

  9. realdealsteel says: Jun 13, 2014 10:57 AM

    Graham’s greed is ridiculous.

  10. coutre says: Jun 13, 2014 10:57 AM

    The money the NFL is spending in lawyer fees and research is well past the amount the Saints are saving in this dispute.

  11. rufustfireflyjr says: Jun 13, 2014 10:58 AM

    LOL at the “naked cash grab” comment. As if this whole thing was ever about ANYTHING else but money — from EITHER side.

  12. grantsbuds says: Jun 13, 2014 10:59 AM

    Ginger don’t push!

  13. jburk003 says: Jun 13, 2014 10:59 AM

    @kamthechancellor:

    Graham is going to win this hands down, easy.

    All the lawyer has to do is bring in one game film, show the JG was flexed out about 70% + of the game, and it is a wrap.

    And if he doesn’t win, a short little hold out can be a quick reminder to the Saints about how much he is worth.

    If I am a free agent, WHY in the world would I want to play for the Saints owner???

    1.) He doesn’t wanna pay some of his most valuable players their worth

    2.) He lobbies for litigation REMOVING compensation for players hurt BEFORE games start.

    If I am a free agent, I’m telling my agent there are 31 teams I play for, and NO to the N.O. Saints.

  14. Aaron Rodgers Has Tiny Hands says: Jun 13, 2014 11:02 AM

    If he wins his grievance, will fantasy football players be forced to use him as a WR instead of a TE?

  15. purpleguy says: Jun 13, 2014 11:02 AM

    It’s too bad they didn’t just agree on a dang contract and avoid all this rig-a-ma-role.

  16. mathomp3 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:03 AM

    How many wide receivers play in a 3 point stance on the line of scrimmage at any time during a game?

  17. jmblosser82 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:05 AM

    bigjdve, just off the top of my head, last season the Seahawks(not sure who actually covered him)and Talib shut him down. He is a tight end but the Saints barely lined him up and targeted him as a TE and that’s where it gets sticky. I believe the NFLPA filed the grievance automatically, which is what the union is set up to do.

  18. glennsyank13 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:06 AM

    What he participates at most doesn’t matter. Christian Ponder participated most at QB. Doesn’t make him one, however. That should have been the Saints’ closing argument.

  19. jimthebuilder27 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:07 AM

    So he’s fine with setting records, going to the Pro Bowl, and making the All-Pro Team as a TIGHT END, but when it’s time to get paid, suddenly he’s a WIDE RECEIVER?

    Gotta love the greed that comes with playing a game.

  20. rufustfireflyjr says: Jun 13, 2014 11:08 AM

    @ bigjdve – He can’t just “change his position.” That’s up to the team, not him. And depending on the coverage, often Graham does draw the other team’s best cover guy, just as sometimes WRs in this league are covered by safeties and even linebackers.

  21. dcapettini says: Jun 13, 2014 11:10 AM

    The NFL is very familiar with “naked cash grabs”. In fact, one could argue that they have perfected the art. It all boils down to the definition of a “tight end”. Prima facie it would seem to be an offensive player positioned at one extremity of the line directly beside a tackle, used as both a blocker and a pass receiver. What is the NFL’s definition?

  22. dglelite says: Jun 13, 2014 11:11 AM

    I get wanting more on ey…I truly do.

    If I was in his position I would try this as well.

    But…he is a te…he has always been a te…
    He gets all his accolades and pro bowl appearances as a result of being a TE. Not a WR.

    shouldn’t his franchise tag then be a by product do him being a…wait for it..tight end?

    Am I missing anything?

  23. thestrategyexpert says: Jun 13, 2014 11:12 AM

    Let’s start trying to get a premium show in the works first that is better than NCG. How about Unnamed Cowardly Heroes, it’s a show where you have to figure out how you can be an impacting hero in a given situation but you must remain anonymous so the audience can’t figure out your name, and the camera can’t identify you either or you lose and get branded as Grand Poobah of Cowards. You’re only a cowardly hero if you can get away with it, and you must remember to ask for your prize in cash cause a check spoils your cover, plus then you’d have to pay taxes.

    And I’m setting the odds now for the next CBA agreement. For it to be a brilliant and well constructed agreement that doesn’t have any holes in it the line pays a google-1. That means if you bet $1 and win then you get to own Google Inc. Disclaimer: Thanks for your $1 donation, we don’t have any intention of doing such a deal anyhow just so you know.

  24. doubleogator says: Jun 13, 2014 11:13 AM

    I’m a Saints fan, I like Graham and how he plays. With that being said I am already tired of all the bs going on with this. Both sides are wrong, meet in the middle and get it done already…

  25. chad504boy says: Jun 13, 2014 11:13 AM

    CAGE FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    btw, Jimmy won’t win. Jimmy’s not being greedy. Saints are being prudent just like they are with everything. Jimmy will end up with a 10-11 million dollar a year contract. Life will go on.

  26. sb44champs says: Jun 13, 2014 11:15 AM

    Too bad the Saints are a Top 5 team and free agents LOVE to play for an annual championship contender like the Saints..

  27. floratiotime says: Jun 13, 2014 11:20 AM

    Think of the cash they could have saved if they just designated Drew Brees as a TE !!! Hindsight is always 20-20.

  28. zukith says: Jun 13, 2014 11:22 AM

    @ bigjdve – Wait, do you think that by simply changing his designation from TE to WR, defenses would change all coverages and the Saints would have to use him differently? You think they see that he is designated as a TE, so they put their #3 or #4 corner on him? That’s not how things work…

  29. ericbroe says: Jun 13, 2014 11:25 AM

    All of you people saying trying to say that JG should get more money cause the NFL makes 5 billion a year. Ever heard of the salary cap, people ? Are you really trying to argue that because the NFL makes so much that they should only raise the Saints salary cap so they can pay JG as a WR ? I’m a saints fan and I wish we could let him walk. One thing I learned in the military is NO ONE is irreplaceable.

  30. mutantman87 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:26 AM

    A statistician should be able to settle this pretty quickly by looking at the frequency distribution with which receivers are lined up in each spot and the frequency distribution with which tight ends are lined up in each spot. From there, he could select the appropriate test to determine where Graham actually belongs. This could have been done months ago. And if I were his agent, I’d pay a grad student $1000 to do this analysis, because it would be a huge pile of cash for them, and the agent’s 3% of the extra $5 million is $150,000. On the other hand, if I were the team, and believed the weight of evidence was on my side, I would do the same thing to save the money. Or just make someone in the analytics department stay late to do it.

  31. ericbroe says: Jun 13, 2014 11:27 AM

    Should Zach Strief try to get WR money for all the times you hear “#64 is declared an eligible receiver” ? Exactly.

  32. msova82 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:27 AM

    He’s referring to this article.

    I charted every pass route Graham ran last season, including the postseason, and cornerbacks were involved in coverage on 177 of Graham’s 630 routes. Brees only threw a pass toward Graham 38 times in the 2013 season against a cornerback. Graham caught 20 of those 38 passes (52.6 percent success rate).

    Graham’s 52.6 percent success rate vs. corners would rank 91st out of 111 wide receivers last season, nestled between St. Louis’ Brian Quick and former Cowboys wideout Miles Austin, according to the catch percentage rate compiled at Pro Football Focus. It would be the lowest rate among Saints wide receivers. By comparison, teammate Marques Colston ranked 11th last year, catching 70.1 percent of the passes thrown his direction.

  33. jmac1013 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:29 AM

    If Graham wins the title of his position should be changed from TE to WR.

  34. TheDPR says: Jun 13, 2014 11:29 AM

    One would think reasonable people could come to a reasonable agreement. If he regularly and consistently plays both positions, do a snap count, figure the percentages, and use the numbers to pay him somewhere in-between the WR and TE salaries.

  35. xxwhodatxx says: Jun 13, 2014 11:32 AM

    As a Saints fan of course I want to keep Graham, but not to the detriment of the team. He just wants too much cash, he’s not irreplaceable.

  36. flannlv says: Jun 13, 2014 11:39 AM

    He’s a TE that is flexed. More often than not there is a WR on his outside. On very few occasions there is an eligible receiver closer to the tackle.

  37. stew48 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:52 AM

    msova82—you didn’t mention what happened on the 139 passes Brees threw while G was covered by a cb. And, yes, that is very important to his overall value. In my not so humble opinion, his overall value is being ignored by the Saints. His being greedy or not is totally irrelevant.

  38. dennis2488 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:55 AM

    if i were him id tell the saints that im taking the tight end franchise tag but im not re-signing. i have a feeling the 5.2 million would make it into his hands pretty quick.

  39. tonyc920 says: Jun 13, 2014 12:00 PM

    Graham has already lost. He’s losing fans, losing credibilIty, losing support from teammates.
    He may get a few more dollars but losing respect because of the overwhelming greed that is as obvious as the nose on your face, he’s already lost.

  40. jburk003 says: Jun 13, 2014 12:04 PM

    Too bad the Saints are a Top 5 team and free agents LOVE to play for an annual championship contender like the Saints..

    _____________________

    Top 5 team ????? According to whom??? You?????

    Seahawks, Broncos, 49ers, Patriots, Chiefs, Colts, Panthers (last year)

    Thats 7 better teams by my count, and I’m even going to throw in:

    Cardinals, Packers

    Maybe throw your Saints in there at 10. Top 5 team???? LOL.

    And free agents will NOT want to go play for a greedy Saints owner who won’t even pay his best WR (JG) the money he deserves.

  41. salmen76 says: Jun 13, 2014 12:05 PM

    Jimmy Graham is a Tight End plain and simple. Its the creativity of coach Payton’s prolific offensive scheme that made Graham a star Tight End. I like Jimmy and i hope he remains a Saint for a long time. But in this instance he is biting the hand that feeds him. The Saints took a chance on him with a 3rd round pick even when he only played one year of college football. The rest of the time he played basketball. So the Saints are responsible for his success in the NFL. Now he is thanking the Saints for all they have done for him by trying to squeeze them for more money. I hope the Saints/NFL win this one. If not, then Jimmy gets wide receiver money and he’s NOT a wide receiver. Not even close. If Jimmy wins then the league should just delete the Tight End designation altogether and call them all wide receivers. One season Reggie Bush caught more passes than any receiver in the NFL. But you didn’t hear him crying for wide receiver money. Jimmy is whining. He needs a wake up call. Geaux Saints!

  42. officialgame says: Jun 13, 2014 12:06 PM

    If the Saints are saying Graham’s value isn’t what they want to spend on a tightend then simply trade him.

  43. cursedvikings1998 says: Jun 13, 2014 12:20 PM

    The Saints won a Super Bowl without Jimmy Soft and I really don’t care if he ever plays another down for them.

  44. NoRespect says: Jun 13, 2014 12:22 PM

    If he wins, list him as a WR for pro bowl selection and fantasy leagues. Watch him never get to the pro bowl again.

  45. jmblosser82 says: Jun 13, 2014 12:26 PM

    salmen76, my guess would be Bush lined up as a RB for most of his snaps, so he couldn’t argue for WR money. Its my understanding that the CBA defines this as where they line up, not what they do. Plus it only matters if he got franchised and I think it only takes into account the prior year.

  46. topcide says: Jun 13, 2014 12:26 PM

    if JG were a WR, he wouldn’t have made the pro bowl, or been an all pro.

    you can’t have it both ways jimmy.

  47. rbirving says: Jun 13, 2014 12:26 PM

    The evolution of the offensive line went from having a right end and left end to a tight end and a wide out as one of the ends was being moved away from the ball to gain space for the receiver. The tight end was held in close to the formation for blocking purposes.

    Now the tight end has evolved to be more of a receiver and two “tight end” sets are gaining popularity because what they really looking for is a combination of size and speed to allow for problems in match ups.

    The WR became more valuable to teams as marquis players who had the exciting plays the fans remembered. The new TEs are changing the game and the difference between the TE and WR really is becoming grayer all the time.

    If a team puts the franchise tag on a player they run the risk of pissing the player off and burning the bridge that would allow them to come to a solution long term.

    If New Orleans doesn’t want to pay Jimmy what Jimmy thinks he’s worth then they should be prepared to deal with an unhappy employee and that rarely ends well for the team.

  48. maestro1899 says: Jun 13, 2014 12:27 PM

    For the Pro Bowl, what position does Graham get voted in at?

    BTW, if he want’s to argue he’s a “slot” receiver, fine. Pay him like a slot receiver.

    The highest contract ever given to a slot WR (I think) was Cruz’s. He’s making like $8-9M/year, right? Amendola I think is next at $6-7M/yr.

    If Graham is going to argue position-specific, let’s be specific on his position. When he lines up as a WR, he’s generally not lined up as an OUTSIDE WR; he’s lined up as a SLOT WR.

  49. qdog112 says: Jun 13, 2014 12:27 PM

    The Saints and the NFL are intentionally trying to muddy the water. The man clearly played more WR than TE and should be paid as a WR.

    In pure FLSA terms, Graham’s title of TE, does NOT match his actual duties he performs, which match the duties of a WR. This is not complex and any arbitrator will side with Graham as a WR.(duties> job title)

    If you are hired to rake leaves and you end up driving a backhoe 65% of the time and that employer pays you as a leaf raker, you’re under paid. A judge or arbitrator will declare you a backhoe driver and order you’re paid that way.

    It’s pretty simple.

  50. mburkett1980 says: Jun 13, 2014 12:33 PM

    dennis2488 says:
    Jun 13, 2014 11:55 AM

    if i were him id tell the saints that im taking the tight end franchise tag but im not re-signing. i have a feeling the 5.2 million would make it into his hands pretty quick.
    ———————

    If they win this arbitration, the Saints will have the threat of being able to just keep tagging him. The deal on the table is likely a deal commensurate with that scenario (or slightly more). The tag is their leverage right now.

  51. titansbro says: Jun 13, 2014 12:44 PM

    So you think it would be ok to take a WR & designate him as a Punter & franchise him for $2 mil per season?

    This guy produces more than any other Saint not named Drew Brees & you want to play this game with him? I’d be asking for a trade if I were him.

  52. rybosjoint says: Jun 13, 2014 12:56 PM

    He is not saying he is wide out, but the labor agreement states that he be franchised at the position he spends 70% of the time at. If the Saints want to use him as a wide out then they have to pay him like a wide out, or leave him to block.

  53. shawtiernan says: Jun 13, 2014 12:58 PM

    It’s not just that he was voted to the pro bowl as a tight end in my mind. It’s that he accepted that honor and voluntarily participated as a tight end. That should close the case, as based on that it is obvious even to jimmy graham that he is a tight end.

  54. elgranderojo79 says: Jun 13, 2014 1:12 PM

    Why don’t they use some common sense and say he lined up as a TE 60% of the time so 60% of the tag price is based on that and a WR 40% of the time so the remaining 40% of the value is based on that. Those numbers are just guesses, but I’m pretty sure both sides know what they are. This just seems so simple and fair.

  55. elgranderojo79 says: Jun 13, 2014 1:14 PM

    Also, I think you would need a minimum number of snaps at dual positions for a split percentage tag to apply.

  56. jimmyt says: Jun 13, 2014 1:39 PM

    How many times has he been hit in the head to not know he is a tight end? Anyway, he will lose and there is no way he will not let it get to him. He’ll be a head case and a pouter you don’t want around your team. Saints will have to try and trade him or cut him and move on.

  57. keylimelight says: Jun 13, 2014 1:40 PM

    “…Holder harps on various factors that are irrelevant to the question that a system arbitrator will resolve — whether Graham participated in more snaps as a receiver than as a tight end in 2013.

    Whether a safety or a cornerback or a linebacker or a defensive end or a nose tackle covers Graham doesn’t matter. …”
    ____________

    How/why are these aspects considered irrelevant? Isn’t this merely a supposition (read: opinion) on Florio’s part?

    Wouldn’t competent arbitration examine every aspect of player positions? like not only how a player lines up but also how the opposing team is forced to respond?

    After all, the decisions that will be made will affect not only this TE/WR grievance, but all other position grievances going forward. These are complex and important negotiations that will have an effect on future salaries. I’d hope they are looking at it from every angle.

  58. milliondollardream2 says: Jun 13, 2014 1:41 PM

    Pretty simple. All tight ends in the league need to start refusing the te label immediately. Those coming out of college the same. Constantly refer to themselves as wide receivers. “I am a wide receiver but if the team needs me to block I will help the team in whatever way I can.” Done.

  59. mdd913 says: Jun 13, 2014 1:50 PM

    _____________________

    Top 5 team ????? According to whom??? You?????

    Seahawks, Broncos, 49ers, Patriots, Chiefs, Colts, Panthers (last year)

    Thats 7 better teams by my count, and I’m even going to throw in:

    Cardinals, Packers

    Maybe throw your Saints in there at 10. Top 5 team???? LOL.

    And free agents will NOT want to go play for a greedy Saints owner who won’t even pay his best WR (JG) the money he deserves.

    ————————————————————–

    The Saints have the #2 best win percentage in the NFL since 2006. They have won at least 11 games in 4 of the last 5 seasons. sean Payton ranks fourth among active head coaches in winning percentage, 10th all-time. The Saints were one of only 2 NFL teams in the 2013 to have an offense and defense that both ranked in the top 5. That sounds pretty damn top 5 to me.

    And Colts? Chiefs? Packers? Cardinals? LO-freaking-L.

  60. mdd913 says: Jun 13, 2014 1:52 PM

    As far as Jimmy Graham goes, when he becomes a guy that wins one-on-one battles against corners instead of exploiting mismatches on linebackers and safeties, like say, a Marques Colston, that’s the day I will call him a wide receiver.

  61. mdd913 says: Jun 13, 2014 1:53 PM

    As far as I am concerned Graham can shove off. I’ve got no problem watching Ben Watson and Josh Hill catch 80-90 passes this year.

  62. tved12 says: Jun 13, 2014 1:54 PM

    Slot receivers are often covered by linebackers, are they not receivers? Some times the defense plays zone, in which case many receivers are covered by linebackers. Why would that have anything to do with what position Graham plays?

    The fact of the matter is the owners wrote the CBA this way so they could screw left tackles and defensive ends in the 3-4. Case and point, Terrell Suggs. Sometimes these things work for you, sometimes they work against you. The billionaire owners made their bed, they need to lie in it now.

  63. clssylssy says: Jun 13, 2014 1:54 PM

    Seems like there should be some middle ground here. Fact is, TEs block, Jimmy can’t block and is a hybrid that is becoming the norm in today’s league. Tony Gonzalez was the TE Jimmy has aspired to be but he could block…guess he should have been payed more. Jeremy Shockey was a traditional TE and could tear em up, was a nighmare for opposing teams. The entire NFL pay scale is an antiquated cast system that has no place in today’s evolving NFL where players are drafted for their ability to play multiple positions and have a wide ranging skillset. The bottom line here is that it comes down to money…the Saints have none and are trying to buy time after over extending themselves on the Brees contract and overpaying a broken Byrd. Graham deserves to be paid based on merit and performance and not put into a prelabled box. A simple solution would be for all contracts to contain the line “and other duties as needed”…just like those in the real world!

  64. rufustfireflyjr says: Jun 13, 2014 2:04 PM

    I think that the Saints should just pay Graham what the Pats are paying Gronk and be done with it. All this “TE-WR” stuff is is trying to get leverage in contract negotiations, anyway.

  65. gofor2with3pointlead says: Jun 13, 2014 2:12 PM

    Graham finished second overall to Demaryius Thomas in receiving. He had nearly twice the yards and TD’s that the two best WR’s on his team had. That should qualify him to GET PAID.

  66. theparadoxx82 says: Jun 13, 2014 2:48 PM

    That whole CBA was written for the big $ players to get mroe money.

    They shouldn’t allow any of the top 10 paid players at any postiion be apart of the NFLPA exec board. You really think Drew Brees gave a damn about what the 90% of low-end paid players have to deal with?

    Hell no. He’s got another quizno’s to buy..

  67. theparadoxx82 says: Jun 13, 2014 2:50 PM

    What do you call a soft TE who can’t block?

    A wide reicever.

  68. edavidberg says: Jun 13, 2014 3:00 PM

    Why should Graham be punished because there are so few tight ends as good as him? I also don’t understand the relevance as to who a defense chooses to cover him.

    Wide receivers block on run plays and run routes on pass plays. Tight ends split wide can do the same. The main difference between the two positions is that tight ends will line up on the line which receivers almost never do.

    The NFL and owners agreed to the 70% figure. If Graham spends more than 70% of his time doing what a wide receiver does then he is a wide receiver. Period.

  69. Marshawn Lunch says: Jun 13, 2014 3:16 PM

    He is a tight end. It should not matter where he lines up. He is a tight end. That’s what the roster shows and that’s how he should be paid. If he want to make WR money then the Saints should ONLY line him up at WR and watch his play suffer, then they can pay him what he is worth as a WR (which would be very little).

    Jimmy Graham is really good against average defenses. The Seahawks owned him and Brees.

  70. 6thsense10 says: Jun 13, 2014 3:37 PM

    Keylimit….

    How a team responds IS irrelevant because its not in the CBA when describing how a player is tagged. The arbitrator’s ruling will be based on the CBA’s definition.

  71. ldfontenot says: Jun 13, 2014 4:17 PM

    Florio: if you only knew the irony involved with your suggestion that any TP beat reporter would carry Sean Payton’s ( or Loomis’s) water for him. A ridiculous assertion to any of us who regularly follow what the local media has to say about the Saints. Holder is entitled to his opinion without you inferring he’s Mickey’s mouthpiece.

    At one point you rubber stamped every word Goodell said about the Bounty case. That did not mean you were his toady; you just didn’t know any better at the time. When you researched it, you changed your mind.

    You are wrong about Holder.

  72. harveyredman says: Jun 13, 2014 4:38 PM

    jimthebuilder27 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:07 AM

    “So he’s fine with setting records, going to the Pro Bowl, and making the All-Pro Team as a TIGHT END…”
    _________________________

    Real questions is why the team is cheaping out on paying a (in your words) – record setting, Pro-bowl, “ALL-Pro Team” player.

    He was a low draft pick and has WAY overplayed his rookie contract, and they want to get another pound of flesh?!

    He is arguably one of the top 1 – 2 TE’s in the League. Why in the blue he.ll aren’t they paying him like one of the best?! What a damn cheap team!!

    IMHO – Hold-out, save your body and brain for a team that values you. Eff Drew Brees and his $22M a year albotross!!

  73. onebigredrocket says: Jun 13, 2014 4:54 PM

    The Saints, always trying to cheat, even their own players

  74. chris6523 says: Jun 13, 2014 5:44 PM

    This so called “evolution” of the tight end position is nonsense. A lot of tight ends have been lining up as inside receivers in a 2 point stance for decades. Kellen Winslow did it with the Chargers in the early to mid 80s. Keith Jackson did for the Eagles and Packers in the late 80s and early 90s. After Jackson retired, Chmura routinely lined up in the slot. The redskins popularized the “h-back” in the 80s, which was just a tight end who functioned on occasion as a lead fullback. By comparison, a wide receiver almost never lines up in a formation other than out wide as a split end or in the slot.

  75. Nick Mazzetti says: Jun 13, 2014 5:53 PM

    The real problem is that positions are subjective and vary from scheme to scheme. To build the franchising system off of a per position pay slotting is short-sighted and naive.

    The franchise tag should be the average salary of the top X number of PLAYERS in the league, regardless of position.

    Then it would truly serve as a retaining feature of a franchise player (a nondenominational cornerstone of a franchise).

    It cuts out the grey area, but the owners won’t support the change because it would dwarf the advantage of the currently flawed franchising system.

  76. mdd913 says: Jun 13, 2014 5:56 PM

    If he want to make WR money then the Saints should ONLY line him up at WR and watch his play suffer, then they can pay him what he is worth as a WR (which would be very little).

    ———————————————————————

    This pretty much sums it up. If Graham wants to be paid like a WR, fine then, let’s evaluate him as a WR. Let’s see….well, he only runs about three routes – a vertical down the seam, a double move out and up, and a quick out. What’s his catch rate against cornerbacks? Oh wait, that’s one of the worst in the league, if you’re judging him against other wide receivers. Does he line up on the outside and beat his man straight up like a Calvin Johnson? Nope, doesn’t do that either, he exploits matchups in the slot. Does he have great speed? He’s about a 4.55. That’s great for a tight end, pretty average for a wideout.

    So in conclusion, this is Jimmy Graham as a wide receiver: he does not beat press coverage, he does not run great routes, he is not particularly fast, and he drops too many passes. And the Saints are supposed to pay him top WR money?

    As a tight end, all-purpose receiving weapon, he is a very good player. As a wide receiver? No thanks, I’d just as soon save my $12 million cap space.

  77. keylimelight says: Jun 13, 2014 5:58 PM

    6th sense,

    “How a team responds IS irrelevant because its not in the CBA when describing how a player is tagged. The arbitrator’s ruling will be based on the CBA’s definition.”
    _________________
    Your statement would be true IF the language in the CBA–in it’s context–were written in crystal clear fashion.

    Since there is a great debate going on as to the identity of Graham’s roster position and since the NFL has declared him a TE for purposes of the franchise tag, I doubt that the CBA as written provides a cut and dried solution to problem at hand.

    If there’s enough wiggle room to find a loop hole to slip through, I gotta believe both parties are going to wiggle with all their might. One side may try to declare unfavorable evidence as irrelevant but that doesn’t mean it is.

    The debate will bring forward any and all angles because a precedent involving lots of money is at stake.

  78. stanklepoot says: Jun 13, 2014 6:00 PM

    mburkett1980 says: Jun 13, 2014 10:48 AM

    How could Holder’s factors be irrelevant when even you yourself have indicated that the definition of a tight end is unknown. What Holder is pointing out is that even though Graham is a tight end who lines up all over the field, he’s still being treated as a TIGHT END by the defense, not a WR.

    How on Earth is that possibly irrelevant to this sort of debate?
    _______________________________

    1. The language in the deal states that the issue is determined by how his team uses him. There is no language referencing how opposing defenses respond to the way his team uses him. Because of this, Florio is correct that the opposing defenses’ reactions really don’t matter as a point of law. The manner in which his team uses him is still a valid debate, however.

    2. Linebackers and safeties don’t just cover TEs. There are many occasions in which they also cover slot receivers and RBs. So, even if you accepted the never-mentioned-in-the-CBA idea that it actually mattered how defenses responded to a player, it still would tell you nothing in this case.

  79. mdd913 says: Jun 13, 2014 6:23 PM

    harveyredman says: Jun 13, 2014 4:38 PM

    jimthebuilder27 says: Jun 13, 2014 11:07 AM

    “So he’s fine with setting records, going to the Pro Bowl, and making the All-Pro Team as a TIGHT END…”
    _________________________

    Real questions is why the team is cheaping out on paying a (in your words) – record setting, Pro-bowl, “ALL-Pro Team” player.

    He was a low draft pick and has WAY overplayed his rookie contract, and they want to get another pound of flesh?!

    He is arguably one of the top 1 – 2 TE’s in the League. Why in the blue he.ll aren’t they paying him like one of the best?! What a damn cheap team!!

    IMHO – Hold-out, save your body and brain for a team that values you. Eff Drew Brees and his $22M a year albotross!!

    ————————————————————-

    The Saints offered to make him the top-paid TE in the NFL, you nitwit. He turned it down.

    As for Brees “albatross” contract, he is the fourth highest-paid QB in the NFL. I’d say that’s a bargain considering his performance is top 3 at worst.

  80. mark4steelers says: Jun 13, 2014 6:34 PM

    He is a tight end and should be compensated as a tight end. The Defense doesn’t know on any given play if he is blocking or receiving, which gives him an advantage to receivers who have to work harder to accomplish the same results. Tight Ends run less, take fewer hits & are usually guarded by passing deficient defenders. There is no way you can accurately gauge how he compares to Wide Receivers, which is what he is wanting. If he wants to be paid as a Receiver, then let him declare himself a Receiver and gauge his success (or failure) from there. I bet he wouldn’t grade out in the top 50% of Receivers after 1 year of complete service. He’s a Tight End, listening to those damn lawyers who are always looking for ways to justify another bill to their clients.

  81. keylimelight says: Jun 13, 2014 6:58 PM

    1) The grievance, filed by the NFLPA, seeks to designate Graham as a WR (versus a TE) for purposes of franchising him at that pay grade: the average of the top 5 WRs currently in the league. A difference of $5 million dollars more than TE tag.

    2) Holder’s well researched article illustrates that despite a boat load of production from Jimmy, he has not come close to performing as a top wide receiver.

    3) Holder’s analysis as to why he didn’t is what Florio is referring to as irrelevant.

    4) In no way is the reporter, Larry Holder, serving as a mouthpiece for the NFL or the Saints.

    5) Click the link and actually read Holder’s in-depth look at the stats for Jimmy and how they compare to others. He makes a reasonable argument.

  82. marcinhouston says: Jun 13, 2014 7:08 PM

    A punter lines up in the same position as a quarterback, and can legally throw the ball. If you want to tell who is a quarterback and who is a punter your best bet is to look at the defense and see if they put in a return man deep.

  83. montanapredator says: Jun 13, 2014 7:23 PM

    Aints are a corrupt team in a horribly corrupt city. Obviously Graham is a TE. Did he go to probowl as a WR? hope he holds out, cost aints lots of money, torches the locker room and continues the decline of a organization that should put the bags back on their head.

  84. silentcount says: Jun 13, 2014 10:16 PM

    How often did any Saints receivers line up as a tight end? Zero? Case closed. Jimmy Graham is the Saints tight end, which is optioned to line up anywhere.

  85. dtlb58 says: Jun 14, 2014 2:35 AM

    Everyone forgets Tony Gonzalez tried this way back in the early 2000 ‘s when he was tearing it up in the Dick Vermiel/Al Saunders offense. They said no then too.

  86. newguy925 says: Jun 14, 2014 11:18 AM

    Drop, the grievance, take the franchise tag, and refuse to sign long term until they pay market value. With the tag structure he gets 120% each additional year.

    Bet against getting hurt and make 9, 11, 13, 16+ mil in the 4 seasons of your prime. That’s a 4 year 50 mil deal with each year guaranteed at kick of week 1. That’s not peanuts. Or the Saints won’t keep franchising and he draws market value.

    The only reason I see for the grievance is to try to force the Saints into a long term deal (that he apparently doesn’t realize they can’t afford) or letting him test the market.

  87. darthsaint says: Jun 17, 2014 4:58 PM

    If Jimmy really thinks he deserves 12-15m per season…then let him walk to another team. Saints will be fine, we have one of the better young WR groups. Jimmy gets the passes based on Drew going to him. Those passes can go to Brandin Cooks now for all I care. The point is…the team will be fine.

    I love Jimmy Graham and hope he retires a Saint. But the only player currently on the Saints I want getting paid like that is Drew Brees. If Cam Jordan has another huge year he may also deserve some big money consideration. But a tight end who has honestly gotten lost in the shuffle in big games…does not deserve 12-15m per season. You are not MEGATRON.

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