Graham has been more receiver than tight end, so far


When it comes to big-name players in line for big-money contracts, the Saints like to bide their time.

In the case of tight end Jimmy Graham, that could be an expensive proposition.

Through three weeks of the 2013 season, Graham has taken more snaps at a receiver alignment than as a tight end.  By our count, thanks to the NFL’s Game Rewind feature, Graham has taken 69 snaps tight to the tackle and 95 snaps either in the slot or split wide.

That’s 57.57 percent of all snaps coming as a receiver.  If the percentage remains north of 50, Graham will have a strong argument for the receiver franchise tag, which in 2012 reflected a $4.5 million difference on a one-year guaranteed deal.

Over the next 13 games, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Saints try to get that ratio under control, with Graham lining up more often as a tight end.  Even if the motivation is to ensure that he remains a tight end for franchise-tag purposes, the analysis is a simple one.  As explained in Article 9, Section 2 of the CBA, “[T]he tender will apply to the position in which the player participated in the most plays.”

Graham may not be the only one fighting the issue come 2014.  In 2012, the Packers and tight end Jermichael Finley resolved a dispute over Finley’s tight end tag with a two-year contract.  It expires this year, and the two sides could be at it again.

For the Saints and Graham, the question becomes when New Orleans will see fit to commit.  If Graham’s camp already is pushing for Graham to be paid like a receiver (and we suspect that Graham’s camp is), the Saints have no reason not to wait until July 15, the deadline for signing a franchise player — whether tagged as a receiver or a tight end — to a multi-year deal.

6 responses to “Graham has been more receiver than tight end, so far

  1. we could get away with paying him less if drew was doing a better job distributing the ball. ive never seen the saints stick to a number one this hard before! lance moore doesnt even have 5 catches!

  2. Colsten came in as a TE, but was moved to WR before the end of his rookie preseason. That being said, graham does deserve big time money! As for lance moore’s decline. He is not a #2, he’s a slot receiver. He’s too small to play outside. He’s pretty much taken over devery’s role. Stills is taking the slot over.

  3. (you suspect Graham’s camp is)? So you have no idea basically. Give it up man, this is a non story. He isn’t going anywhere, the rest will work itself out.

  4. @droyer85

    I hate to burst your bubble, but I don’t see how the Saints can even come close to having the money to re-sign Graham long-term or even tagging him. Why? Cuz they are looking to be about $20M over the cap in 2014. There is no way they can create the space needed without massive player cuts and they restructure the deals of Brees (18.4), Smith (13.9), Grubbs (9.1), Colston (8.3), Evans (11), Bunkley (6.1125). Those are their 2014 cap hits in 2014. Just those players alone account for about half of the Saints salary cap.

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