Graham ruling expected next week

AP

It’s been more than a week since an arbitrator considered arguments and evidence in the franchise-tag grievance between Jimmy Graham and the Saints.  To date, no ruling has been issued.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a ruling is expected next week.  (Which probably means it’ll come this afternoon.)

That won’t be the end of it.  The losing party party inevitably will appeal the outcome to a three-person panel under the labor deal.  And a decision may or may not be issued before the July 15 deadline for working out a long-term deal.

Which means that there’s a decent chance the decision won’t be official before the team and the player have to decide whether to work out a long-term contract or let it ride on a one-year deal with franchise tender to be determined by the appeals panel.

The stakes are considerable.  In addition to a $5.3 million gap in 2014 pay, the likelihood of the Saints using the tag again in 2015 will drop considerably if Graham wins.  By rule, his one-year pay for 2015 would bump to $14.76 million for a second tag.