We’ve managed to get our mitts on a portion of the testimony generated during the Jimmy Graham franchise-tag grievance hearing. And I’ve managed to actually devote some time to reading the many pages, which turned out to be far more difficult than actually getting a partial transcript.
Testifying as an expert in support of Graham’s position that he should be regarded as a receiver for franchise-tag purposes, former Buccaneers special assistant to the head coach Butch Davis said that the team’s draft strategy in 2012 was fueled directly by a desire to stop Graham.
“We took [safety] Mark Barron in the first round simply because of Jimmy Graham,” Davis said of the team’s decision with the eighth overall pick that year.
The goal, as Davis explained it, was to have Barron cover Graham for short to intermediate routes, with help over the top on deeper routes, because Graham is faster than Barron.
It hasn’t exactly worked; the Saints are 4-0 against the Bucs since Barron arrived.
The testimony ultimately was turned against Davis on cross examination by the NFL’s lawyers, when Davis was forced to admit that the Buccaneers didn’t draft a cornerback to cover Graham — and that the Bucs never would have drafted a safety to cover Lions receiver Calvin Johnson.
In hist testimony, Davis compared Graham to Johnson and other large receivers, including Plaxico Burress and Harold Carmichael. Ultimately, however, arbitrator Stephen Burbank rejected the argument that Graham becomes a receiver when moved from the classic tight end alignment, drawing an arbitrary four-yard line from the tackle and holding that snaps inside that bubble count as tight end snaps.
Burbank’s decision apparently was swayed heavily by the testimony from Saints coach Sean Payton. We’ve gotten our hands on his testimony, too. If/when I managed to focus my eyes and brain on the many questions and answers, I’ll share some of the highlights.