Now that a certain basketball player has decided to make another decision, decisively, all eyes normally watching the NFL can turn to New Orleans.
The Saints and tight end Jimmy Graham must reach a long-term deal by Tuesday, July 15. If they don’t, the Saints and Graham can thereafter sign only a one-year deal.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the discussions have to date gone slowly. Which means there’s a chance the discussions will go down to the wire.
This means that Graham’s window for appealing the decision that he’s a tight end and not a receiver for franchise tag purposes will close before a deal is, or isn’t, done. The CBA states that Graham “must serve on the other party and file with the System Arbitrator a notice of appeal within ten (10) days of the date of the award appealed from.”
The arbitrator issued his ruling on July 2. That makes Saturday, July 12, the deadline. This means that Graham may have to file his appeal as soon as today, in order to ensure that he doesn’t technically fail to file “within” 10 days of the decision.
Some have suggested that, if Graham files the appeal, the negotiations on a long-term deal will implode. To the contrary, the Saints realize Graham would be doing what he needs to do to preserve his rights and enhance his leverage as he tries to get the Saints to or beyond $10 million per year.
At last word, the Saints were at $9.5 million per year, an offer undiminished by the team’s victory in the arbitration. By Tuesday, the two sides will work out a long-term deal or they won’t. If they don’t, 2014 could be Graham’s last year in New Orleans — especially if he wins the appeal.