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Arbitrator expects to issue Graham ruling on Thursday

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The Fourth of July is a day filled with celebrations all over the country, but some of the people involved in the Jimmy Graham franchise tag grievance may not be feeling much like fireworks come Friday morning.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that arbitrator Stephen Burbank expects to inform Graham, the Saints and the NFL of his decision “no sooner, no later” than Thursday. Both sides in the argument over whether Graham should be tagged as a tight end at a cost of $7 million in 2014 or if he should be tagged for the $12.3 million for wide receivers. Whichever way Burbank rules, you’d expect the loser to appeal.

The arbitrator’s ruling would give the two sides a firmer idea of how things will play out and, as a result, a possible framework for a long-term deal. The almost inevitable appeal could make a long-term agreement hard to come by, though, as the Saints and Graham face a July 15 deadline to get such a deal done before they’d have to put it off until after the 2014 season.

It’s not clear what the timetable for an appeal would be and even an expedited process may not reach its conclusion in 12 days, which may leave Graham with no choice but to play out the year under the ultimate terms laid down by the grievance process.

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22 Responses to “Arbitrator expects to issue Graham ruling on Thursday”
  1. @Cereal_22 says: Jun 30, 2014 4:47 PM

    Quick fix, pay him what an NBA small forward makes ???

  2. ripdipbob says: Jun 30, 2014 5:02 PM

    Pay the man!!! We all know he is the main target there!!

  3. dave20109 says: Jun 30, 2014 5:02 PM

    “…which may leave Graham with no choice but to play out the year under the ultimate terms laid down by the grievance process.”

    That isn’t true. Mr Graham could always do a long term deal before the ruling. I believe you reported there was an offer on the table which paid him more than $7 million per year- but, less than what he would expect if he is classified as a WR.

    Does Mr Graham really think the Saints will pay him top WR money on a long term deal? I don’t. He is a great hybrid receiver. He is not a great WR.

  4. chad504boy says: Jun 30, 2014 5:03 PM

    Jimmy to Heat for Lebron

  5. purpleguy says: Jun 30, 2014 5:17 PM

    Is it a surprise that the ruling is issued the day before the holiday so no one pays much attention?

  6. handlethehandles says: Jun 30, 2014 5:19 PM

    No Jimmie and No playoffs. Whats 7 million to the AINTS… Use your head, this guy is bound to leave if you keep messing with him.

  7. brokebackbrees says: Jun 30, 2014 5:34 PM

    Top 5 Qbs in NFC South…

    1. Cam Newton
    2.Josh McCowan
    3. Matt Ryan
    4. Mike Glennon
    5. Princess Brees

  8. uglydingo says: Jun 30, 2014 5:42 PM

    Get set to be shocked. Jimmy Graham could win his grievance and the Saints will have difficulty finding the cash to pay him. (They don’t have much wiggle room and would need to cut players).

  9. WilliamBelichick says: Jun 30, 2014 5:48 PM

    Saints fan here

    I wish someone would have offered (2) 1st round picks for Jimmy. A TE making that much money is a luxury one of the 5 -7 teams with franchise QB’s cannot have. Give me any 3-4rd round college prospect over 6’3 and Drew will find him for 10 TD’s

    Jimmy, if you break the huddle and mostly line up next to Zac Strief on the line, you are not a WR.

  10. cursedvikings1998 says: Jun 30, 2014 5:50 PM

    All you “pay the man” people just kill me. The Saints already offered to make Graham the highest paid tight end in NFL history and he turned them down.

    Personally, here is what I hope happens:

    1. The league rules in Jimmy Graham’s favor.
    2. The Saints cut Jimmy Graham.
    3. Jimmy Graham’s agent shops him around to several teams.
    4. Jimmy Graham draws a lot of interest, but the top offer he receives isn’t as high as what the Saints were originally prepared to offer him.
    5. Jimmy Graham comes groveling back to the Saints, who decide to match the highest offer from the other suitor.

    #hilarious

  11. SeenThisB4 says: Jun 30, 2014 6:02 PM

    Actually, the Saints have enough cap space regardless of the ruling.

  12. pats1944 says: Jun 30, 2014 6:36 PM

    Jimmy you’re welcome in New England gronk and graham would be unstoppable, but then again NE won’t pay you more than 7 a year though

  13. realfootballfan says: Jun 30, 2014 7:10 PM

    I could do this for them. He’ll get tagged as a TE. If he wants to play receiver, I’m sure he could line up out there, and fail of course because the reason he’s so unique is because of where he lines up with his size/speed combo in the offense. No one cares how many passes you caught from that position because you’re still a TE. It’s like Sprolls has barely run the ball in his career compared to how much he’s caught it, but he’s an RB. This whole process was silly.

  14. samapoc says: Jun 30, 2014 7:30 PM

    I am a manager at my company but I believe I should be paid like a vice president because I do a lot more work than the VIPs do. Sound familiar?

  15. muencht says: Jun 30, 2014 9:01 PM

    Most people seem to be against Graham. I think it’s because he makes a lot of money, so why does he need more? It’s about fairness – pay him what he deserves.

    According to a previous post “Graham lined up only 33 percent of the time in 2013 as a traditional tight end.  The labor deal requires franchise-tagged players to be paid according to the tender for the position at which they participated in the most plays during the prior league year.”

    Jimmy Graham should be paid as a WR not a TE. End of discussion.

  16. ytrappin504 says: Jun 30, 2014 11:32 PM

    As a saints fan, I don’t wanna pay jimmy. Drew is the reason any receiver is relevant on out roster meaning drew will make the next up and comer a star. Pay jimmy his bull s*^% money with the franchise tag and trade his ASAP during the season. Our offense only has room for one “me” player and that’s ours quarterback. Shoulda took 2 first rounds for him when we had the chance and let him retire early to go play basketball. He’s soft in big games anyways so flopping might come naturally to jimster.

  17. jtwp61 says: Jul 1, 2014 12:49 AM

    I think he should be paid as a te, his numbers are impressive but there is no chance he puts up those numbers split out wide going against top corners. He dominates linebackers like an elite TE should.

  18. RegisHawk says: Jul 1, 2014 4:23 AM

    Vernon Davis perks up his ears…

  19. shockhawk12 says: Jul 1, 2014 4:58 AM

    This guy is a greedy load of crap- You cant get into deciding how to pay a guy based on how he lines up or how many catches he makes..You start that crap and EVERYBODY is going to want to call themselves a QB- They make even more..Its so simple..You get drafted as a TE, and on paper it says you are a TE, so guess what?? Yup, You ARE a TE…Pretty soon it will be only lawyers fighting each other to decide everything important…I’m so fed up with these me-me-me fatheads I could puke

  20. saintskin33 says: Jul 1, 2014 8:11 AM

    Saints fan here.

    My issue with Jimmy is how he gets shut down by physical corners (see NE, SEA, SF, and CAR game film). Jimmy is the best TE in the league, so he should be paid as one. No more than $10 mil/year. Any higher, he should be released.

  21. noladat says: Jul 1, 2014 10:14 AM

    Does it take this long to count how many times Calvin Johnson lined up next to the tackle?

    Get it done already!

  22. booker1974 says: Jul 1, 2014 5:51 PM

    I’ll be pretty surprised if Graham wins the hearing. I think to win this he’s relying on a narrow definition based on the historic terminology for the position as opposed to the modern application of the position.

    I don’t think the 67% off the line figure means anything — the phrasing of the CBA is about what position the player “participated” as, not necessarily where he lined up. Despite the name, tight ends do not play tight on the line every play. They’ve been moving to the slot, in motion, out wide, etc., for years. So even if he was off the line the majority of the time, he was still doing so in the capacity of the tight end position 100% of the time, as that is how Sean Payton uses the position to read the defensive coverage and create mismatches.

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