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NFLPA will “carefully determine” next steps in Graham case

Graham Getty Images

It’s official, sort of. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is a tight end for franchise tag purposes. The decision from arbitrator Stephen Burbank keeps an extra $5.3 million in 2014 base pay out of Graham’s pockets, maintaining his salary and cap number at $7 million.

Graham has not yet addressed the ruling, on Twitter or otherwise. The union representing him in the process has.

“The NFLPA will review with Jimmy Graham the decision from Arbitrator Stephen Burbank which permits the player to be designated as a tight end for Franchise Tag purposes,” the union said in a press release. “We will advise Graham of his options and carefully determine next steps in this matter.”

On the surface, his options are simple. He can appeal the ruling to a three-person panel, or he can drop it.

Under the normal procedure spelled out in the labor deal, however, Graham’s appeal wouldn’t be resolved by July 15, the deadline for doing a long-term contract with the Saints. So if he hopes to push the pendulum decisively in his direction before the last day for using that as leverage on a long-term contract, he needs to request an expedited appeal, with a ruling coming in the next 13 days at the latest.

Here’s the catch. Graham deliberately waited from the application of the tag in late February until the middle of April to file the grievance. Thus, the three-person panel could response to a request for a speedy appeal by saying, “You should have filed your grievance earlier.”

Either way, the Saints and Graham have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. If Graham is sufficiently upset by the team’s victory and the manner in which they procured it (e.g., having his head coach testify against Graham), he could choose to refuse to do a long-term deal, going all in with an appeal that, if successful, would drive his franchise tender to $12.3 million, forcing the Saints to tender Graham at $14.76 million in 2015 if they want to keep him from the open market.

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36 Responses to “NFLPA will “carefully determine” next steps in Graham case”
  1. Heretopissuoff says: Jul 2, 2014 1:14 PM

    As long as he disappears in games he won’t be considered a TE or WR.
    Khalil Mack>Clowney and Barr
    Mychel Rivera best TE in the league not even close
    RAIDERS 10-6 #43-8 broncos suck

  2. Heretopissuoff says: Jul 2, 2014 1:16 PM

    *Mychal
    Graham<gronk

  3. kneelbeforesod says: Jul 2, 2014 1:17 PM

    Ends non-controversially and predictably. Expect this story to disappear with a quickness.

  4. watermelon1 says: Jul 2, 2014 1:19 PM

    Just hold out. Saints will change their tune really quick when graham starts missing actual games and the saints don’t have that red zone threat!

  5. Marshawn Lunch says: Jul 2, 2014 1:24 PM

    Jimmy Graham is great against lousy defenses. He was non-existent against the Seahawks. Guy is pedestrian at best. $7million is too much for this chump.

  6. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 2, 2014 1:25 PM

    Here’s an option…go to OverTheCap and sort the list of teams by cap space and throw out some feelers to see if any of those teams would covet him more than the Saints covet him. That way he can get more money than the Saints are willing to pay, and the Saints can profit via trade and get back a little bit more than what they think he’s worth.

  7. tved12 says: Jul 2, 2014 1:28 PM

    I don’t understand why people are so against Graham on this.

    The CBA says, when you’re tagged you get tagged at the position you lined up at the most last season. Say what you want, that’s the letter of the contract.

    When Suggs and other DE’s who play in a 3-4 get screwed on the tag, nobody cares. Does anybody here consider Suggs to be a LB?

    But Graham plays by the rules of the CBA, written to screw players anyway, and everybody seems to be against him. Why?

    Again, Graham didn’t write the CBA and he didn’t sign it. The owners and the union did. Graham has every right to work within the confines of that legal agreement.

  8. doubleogator says: Jul 2, 2014 1:28 PM

    My son is a high school football coach in Louisiana. We were talking yesterday about this and he said Graham was selfish. I told him he played for cheap the first 4 years and I didn’t agree. He said anyone who won’t block is selfish…changed my outlook a bit.

  9. Ed Bandell says: Jul 2, 2014 1:29 PM

    The NFLPA should have addressed this issue well before it came to this and as I have suggested in a previous post, done away with the WR and TE designations and just settled on one term for both positions; “receiver.”

    To me a receiver is anyone lined up in any formation other than offensive line, QB, FB, or HB.

    For this agreement from the NFL, WR & TE now share one designation and splits the difference between the $12 million figure for WR and the $7million figure for a TE. A receiver franchise tag is now worth $9.5 million.

    Good luck trying to convince WR to take a bit of a paycut so in the long term everyone winds up making more.

  10. baddegg says: Jul 2, 2014 1:29 PM

    This whole thing leads me to another important question. Should Aaron Hernandez be classified as a TE or a “cold blooded killer?”

    I need to know for my fantasy squad.

  11. mypercyhurts2 says: Jul 2, 2014 1:30 PM

    But, but, what does this have to do with Johnny Manziel?

  12. titansbro says: Jul 2, 2014 1:30 PM

    I’m just shocked because the CBA says it depends on where you line up most of the time. Or at least that’s what we’ve been told, I haven’t read the damn thing, have you? And over 50% of the time he’s lined up as a WR. Very strange.

  13. kd75 says: Jul 2, 2014 1:31 PM

    Graham couldn’t block a bathtub drain.

    90 catches a year.

    He’s a receiver.

  14. qdog112 says: Jul 2, 2014 1:31 PM

    Just let the process play out. For $5.3 million, I think I’d appeal. What has he to lose?

    He’ll present the same case on appeal at a marginal cost for attorneys. See if duties matter to the 3 appeal judges.

  15. Spymaster Belichick says: Jul 2, 2014 1:34 PM

    If a TE is lined up as a wide receiver, he is officially ruled a wide receiver for that play. Graham was officially a wide receiver for 67% of his plays. There needs to be hybrid designations for multi-positional players. He’s not a conventional TE and shouldn’t be paid like one. At the same time, he’s not a WR. If the Saints insist he’s a pure tight end and apply that tag, he shouldn’t line up out wide this season, simple as that. Give them what they want.

  16. detectivejimmymcnulty says: Jul 2, 2014 1:36 PM

    The CBA says, when you’re tagged you get tagged at the position you lined up at the most last season. Say what you want, that’s the letter of the contract.

    A TE plays in the slot. All the great TEs throughout the history of the game took snaps in the slot. Another overlooked factor is slot WRs don’t make as much as outside guys anyway.

  17. metalhead65 says: Jul 2, 2014 1:37 PM

    if I were Graham then I would only line up and run routes that tight ends run. if that is what he is getting paid to do then refusing to line up as a reliever that he is not being paid as would not be refusing to work right? as a general labor guy they can’t expect me to do the supervisors job and not get paid for it right?

  18. freaux says: Jul 2, 2014 1:39 PM

    Saints will sign him to a long term deal now that the parameters have been set. They will offer a generous deal in the $9m per year range and both sides will be happy.

  19. irisht53 says: Jul 2, 2014 1:59 PM

    He went to the Pro Bowl as a TE. He has no problem with defenses treating him as TE, when they assign a LB or Safety to cover him.

    He wouldn’t be considered a No. 1 wide out by most teams standards. He (and the Saints) take advantage of mismatches he creates against LBs, Safeties and No. 3 (or in some cases No. 4) CBs.

    If he’s insisting on being paid like a WR now, he should have insisted on being played as wide out for the past 4 years (or at least last year), not as a TE.

    Should he be the highest paid TE in the league, absolutely, should his pay be on par with the Top 5 WRs, absolutely not.

  20. jetsfaninindy says: Jul 2, 2014 2:01 PM

    I think the Saints muffed this one. This is a bad as the NFL saying there is a difference between a WR and a slit receiver. The NFL always gets their way. Jimmy will now hold out, and force the Saints into a WR deal or a trade.

  21. mburkett1980 says: Jul 2, 2014 2:02 PM

    The CBA says nothing about “where you line up.” That’s made-up media garbage.

  22. herman23934 says: Jul 2, 2014 2:04 PM

    I wish someone would franchise tag me as a punter. One year of that would set me for life.

    I predict he will be traded soon.

  23. greenlantern75 says: Jul 2, 2014 2:06 PM

    Graham should appeal as it is his right in the CBA.

    If he loses, then play the year out (and potentially next year as well if they re-tag him).

    And for the guy that said (or his son said) Graham is selfish because he doesn’t block? Graham lines up and does what the coaching staff asks of him…If that is lining up as *cough, cough* as WR then don’t blame Jimmy…

    And for all the Aint’s fans who are talking about how horrible a player he is, I hope he grants your wishes and truly plays down to your horrible impression of him…Other teams would love to have a guy catch double digit TDs every year…

  24. thereisfootballwestofjersey says: Jul 2, 2014 2:12 PM

    After Hurricane Katrina – the Saints were heroes, bringing love, passion and a world championship to New Orleans.

    Lately, they’re a bunch of complainers and whiners. Lame!

  25. jvaughan82 says: Jul 2, 2014 2:25 PM

    Doesn’t Graham get the most leverage by dragging this out? Wait until the last day, then file a non-expedited appeal, guaranteeing that no decision will be made before the deadline to sign a multi-year deal. Limited to a one-year deal, the Saints’ cap number would be the tag number, whichever it may be, so a mid-August decision could force the Saints to plan for a possible $5M cap hit during training camp/pre-season. Faced with this uncertainty, doesnt this entice the Saints to put their best offer year out there?

  26. floriofollies says: Jul 2, 2014 3:11 PM

    “Again, Graham didn’t write the CBA and he didn’t sign it.”

    Well, then he should be really pissed off at Drew Brees, who did help write the CBA and was his player rep. And yes, he did sign it, as the CBA came before a vote of all the players.

    If he doesnt like it, Louisiana is a right to work state, so he should feasibly be able to leave the NFLPA and still be employed by the Saints

  27. flexx91 says: Jul 2, 2014 4:10 PM

    I think the Saints muffed this one. This is a bad as the NFL saying there is a difference between a WR and a slit receiver. The NFL always gets their way. Jimmy will now hold out, and force the Saints into a WR deal or a trade.
    ___________________________________

    Hold out and give up $9 million? We hope you’re smarter than that.

  28. campcouch says: Jul 2, 2014 4:14 PM

    He’ll play for his tag and a contract next year,but he still won’t get WR money in NO or anywhere else.

  29. jchuber says: Jul 2, 2014 4:26 PM

    Easy solution. When ever he’s in the slot, drop the pass, fall, trip, or whatever. The Aint’s can win a battle, and loose the war.

  30. porkcrisp says: Jul 2, 2014 5:11 PM

    Graham should say “sorry coach, they designated me a TE, therefore I will only line up in a traditional TE position.”

  31. mcconne77 says: Jul 2, 2014 5:33 PM

    Jimmy Graham should be totally offended by this treatment by New Orleans. The Saints should do the right thing and change their name.

  32. gdfbar says: Jul 2, 2014 6:51 PM

    Graham might be a historically good receiving TE, but if we look at him as a WR there are at least 10 guys playing right now that are as good or better than him. Graham is on the pro bowl ballot as a TE, and has won accolades and recognition as one. If he maintains his current production for another 5 years he would probably go in to the HOF as a TE. He wants to take the accolades that he won as one thing, and spin them to say that he is really something else. Teams have been moving offensive players around their formation for years, and that’s really all that is happening here. He’s a TE.

    Also, Graham is hurting the position of other TE’s right now. His new contract would surely be one of the top 5 current TE contracts, maybe the biggest. That deal will push up the tag number for that position, and the rate will natural adjust it’s self over time to reflect the value that teams place one that position. If I were an NFL team, I wouldn’t pay Graham like a top 5 WR. He isn’t one of the best 5 WR’s in the league, and has a history of disappearing when opponents scheme to make him disappear.

  33. themeccalambeaufield says: Jul 2, 2014 6:58 PM

    Attorneys…what do you mean sort of? Its ok to admit you were wrong.

  34. larryjames836 says: Jul 2, 2014 8:16 PM

    If I was Jimmy Graham I would set talk on a long term deal, because the New Orleans Saints have played games without Jimmy Graham. So what make you people’s think that Tom Benson & Mickey Loomis want let him hit the door, they have some TE’s may not be as tall & big as Graham they can bring that ball in.

  35. craigkintexas says: Jul 2, 2014 9:20 PM

    A rose by any other name is still a rose Jimmy.

  36. monroesaintsfan says: Jul 3, 2014 12:19 AM

    As an avid Saint’s fan, I really hope they can trade him. He’s good but in no way is he good enough to be causing this kind of distraction. Get a #1 next year and a #3 the year after and the Saints are ahead in the game. Sorry to upset the homers but it can’t be denied the guy disappears when matched up against the better defenders in the league.

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