Report: Graham to file immediate grievance if tagged as tight end


It’s no secret that Jimmy Graham wants to be paid like a wide receiver.

Graham led the league with 16 receiving touchdowns and was 15th among all players in receiving yards with 1,215. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the league year in March. However, teams can begin placing the franchise tag on players beginning on Tuesday and that’s where the fight could truly begin.

The Saints, if they elect to use the franchise tag on Graham, will likely designate him as a tight end. If they do so, they apparently can expect an immediate response from Graham.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Graham will file a grievance with the league if he’s not tagged as a wide receiver. The reason it matters is because in 2013, the difference between a tight end and a receiver playing on a franchise tag was a difference of approximately $4.5 million.

Graham has been one of the most productive pass catchers in the league over the last three seasons and believes he deserves to get paid for that production. Considering he’s split out frequently from the line of scrimmage, Graham feels he should be designated as a receiver instead of a tight end.

With no progress being made yet toward a long-term deal, it’s likely this battle is just beginning.

88 responses to “Report: Graham to file immediate grievance if tagged as tight end

  1. You don’t want to keep players by playing games like this. Not only will it alienate the player you’re trying to keep; it’ll also give the organization a bad reputation in the locker room.

    Two options: (1) Pay him what he’s worth. If that means you have to cut players, then you cut them; or (2) let him go.

  2. Pay the guy, he has earned it. He is the most reliable pass catcher they have. Giving him 8 mil a season shouldn’t be the end of the world. They have some decent young guys that Brees can work with.

    They can’t drop the ball with Graham.

  3. Who else gets to change their preferred position? does anyone say, hey, I want the top salary that quarterbacks are paid as I make them look good and keep the offense running?

    Jimmy Graham is a TIGHT END. To say otherwise is to be illogical. If the money wasn’t better due to there being more receivers on the field and thus driving up their competitive pay then he wouldn’t ask. This is financially driven. If a wide receivers made less Jimmy Graham wouldn’t file a grievance. If he and his agent thought they could make an argument for a quarterbacks pay then they would. so they are settling for the wide receiver argument.

    When Graham was drafted, and chosen All Pro and to pro bowls, was it at wide receiver or at tight end?

    Tight end. You can’t just pick another position because you are greedy. What if anyone else tried such a silly argument at their workplace? What would the answer be if someone said: Hey, I am in this position but I want the salary of that ‘other’ position! – it would be NO.

  4. Jimmy, you can’t claim All-Pro Status as a Wide Receiver because you were named All-Pro as, that’s right Jimmy, as a Tight End…

    Your quarterback even confirmed you’re a Tight End…

    Granted a special Tight End that can “run like a deer” catching passes…

    Unless of course it’s a big game and you and the 20 million dollar quarterback decide to pull a turtle…

    And if you ranked fifteenth in yards receiving, then you should have an average of the top five receivers…

    You should and ought to get paid, but you’re gonna find Saints fans turning on you if you allow Drew’s agency to blow the cap worse than they did for his contract…

    If Drew truly wants you as a teammate, ya’ll gonna have talk about his cap number…

    Not to mention that there will be no cap room left to sign a Right Tackle and a Center with both starters departing for free agency…

    If Drew’s on his back, how are you gonna earn your money with no one able to throw to you?!?

  5. According to Pro Football Focus, JG only lined up as a TE on 1/3 of the snaps. He probably has a case.

  6. Line up in the flat and produce, Jimmy. Then you’re a WR. I’m a systems analyst, but I don’t demand to be paid like an engineer.

    I’d be insulted and pretty PO’d if I were part of “Whodat Nation”.

  7. Obvious he can’t block, so that must make him a WR. Oh wait… a lot of WR’s block, so that makes him worth less.

  8. Jimmy Graham as a WR would generate the same production as any team’s 3rd or 4th receiver. He’s a fool if he think he’d even be in the NFL right now if he wasn’t drafted as a TE.

  9. Of course he will .. The CBA is pretty clear on how it will play out.. Thus Graham wont be tagged and he will be a free agent.. unless the Saints want to guarantee him 10.537 Mil.. which doesn’t compete with the 30 + mil he’ll get guaranteed on the market.

  10. I’m torn on this one. Yes, he lead the league in TD’s and was 15th in receiving yards and I feel he is more wide receiver than tight end. He should also get wide receiver type money with a new deal.

    However, he is a tight end and if he gets tagged, it should absolutely be as tight end.

  11. Come to the Redskins Jimmy! We have plenty of money to sign you now (36 million cap space penalty has been served). Come win a superbowl with a healthy RG3 and Jay Gruden… HTTR!

  12. Because the CBA is relatively new, the league is not really in a position to quarrel with its provisions. The speculation in Baltimore is that Pitta will agree to be tagged at some number between the tight end and wide receiver designations. Certainly Graham has a point and is probably less amenable to compromise. A similar problem exists for linemen. There is no distinction in the CBA between left tackles and other O-linemen and so any tag will reflect the price of the 5 highest paid left tackles, making such a move cost prohibitive.

  13. He was drafted as a TE, broke records for TE’s, went to the Pro Bowl as a TE…he is a TE. only thing he does like a WR is block poorly.

  14. Was it his idea that he should be used as a WR? Doubt it.

    When it came down to the wire in the playoffs, what did he manage? 1 catch for 8 yards.

    He’s a tight end. The Saints decided he’d get all the attempts. A product of a (very good) system.

  15. My question is, if they want to be considered a WR, why wait until contract time?

    He still considers himself a TE, why should be paid as something else? If he wants to be paid as a WR, he should be a WR. People can switch position.

    Have him market himself as a WR this offseason and play that position from now on. Then he/they won’t have to worry about it.

  16. If Graham wants more money this year, his best bet is to hold out. Why? There is no violation of the collective bargaining agreement or the NLRA; henceforth, the grievance will be denied. While Graham will go down as one of the best tight ends to ever live- the evidence reveals that he is exactly that. A tight end, but an invaluable one.

    The only other possibility is arbitration, but by the time the grievance process gets to the end, the parties strike for arbitrators, have the hearing and wait the normal prolonged amount of time for the arbitration decision briefing, the season will be underway and Graham will be soiling his britches over the fact that he was out of pay for an extended period of time.

  17. Personally I think they should look at all snaps over the players contract. So if over the last 4-5 yrs Jimmy has had more snaps lined up outside he is a WR. Not just 2013

  18. I thought a poster made a great point in a previous article (sorry I don’t recall who). This could lead to a lot of grievances for offensive lineman who may be a guard typically but kicked out to tackle because a player was injured.

    The tight end position is evolving with spread offenses. It may betime for the franchise tag to evolve with it. Instead of taking into account just the previous seasons snaps, why not count all snaps while the player was under his previous contract?

  19. Has he been named All-Pro as a tight end? Did he receive a bonus for such an award as a tight end? Did he accept the award and bonus as a tight end, or did he refuse the honor and the cash? If he was willing to be rewarded as a tight end while playing, he should still be a tight end during contract negotiations.

  20. WRs do not put there hand in the ground on offense at all. You, sir, are a TE. Sproles could do the same because he’s used in the passing game more often than in the running game but he is still a RB. I see your diva essence seeping through more and more since you had to tell Bruce Irvin who you were.

  21. This is just stupid. Graham has not been used any different than Gronk, Shannon Sharpe, Kellen Winslow Jr/Sr or any other pass catching tight end. I understand the Graham camp will say he has been split out but the Saints do that in order to avoid him being double teamed. We have seen this story before and often times the “tight end” or should I say the agent of the tight end falls short.

  22. One of the hosts on Sirius NFL radio made a really good point about Jimmy Graham/TEs who want to be paid like receivers.

    Which meeting room do you go into? TEs or WRs? Where are you listed on the depth chart? TE or WR? Pretty easy decision when you look at it that way.

    It would be equivalent to a safety wanting to be paid like a premier defensive end because they blitz off the edge every once in a while.

  23. I am surprised at all of the negative reaction to Graham’s position in this battle of position’s. Number 1 in the league for receiving touchdowns and there were only 14 other players in the league who caught more yards then him. The significant difference of $4.5 million makes this a no-brainer for Graham. The fact that the tight-end position is evolving as it is makes guys like Graham and Gronk significantly different than what most teams have. At a minimum the league will need to look at how they determine the franchise tag amounts given that some of the traditional designations are evolving with the new offensive minded game. Should receiving running backs be tagged differently than power running backs? Should offensive lineman who move positions on a regular basis be tagged differently? The answer may be that the league has to look at the number of snaps at the position or even the number of receptions to make the designation. To call him a whiner because of this though is out of place. He is simply looking at a potential flaw in the system and attempting to have that flaw resolved.

  24. Why doesn’t the NFL create a franchise tag category of slot receiver? We’ve seen that they don’t get paid the same as wide receivers through FA. None of these TE’s are really wide receivers, they take on LBs, nickels and safeties in the slot.

  25. I wonder why all these TEs who want to be paid like WRs don’t just switch to being a WR when they hit free agency. Could it possibly be that if they did become a full-fledged WR all the mismatches that come from starting a play as an inline blocker then kicking out to a slot receiver go away and their numbers suffer?

  26. So if a linebacker has to cover slot recievers does that mean he’s a defensive back? How about a quarterback running the ball, is he a runningback now? If graham has an issue maybe he should have picked a different position.

  27. I think if you looked snaps of the top 5 TE’s that his franchised salary will based off, they will find that his % of time spread out vs hand in dirt next to the tackle is within the standard deviation with his peers at TE.

    FWIW, I’d do the same thing Graham is doing to leverage a long term deal.

  28. I cannot blame Jimmy for wanting more money. This issue stems from the NFL’s lack of clarity in the CBA. A Loophole if you will.

    However, as a Ravens fan, I do not want him to be tagged as a WR, because we will be losing Pitta if that’s the case.

  29. Do the best you can to trade him, if he can bring two #1’s great. The Saints still have a good tight end in Ben Watson, draft another one and move on…

  30. Everyone needs to calm down. This is fairly cut and dry. What does the CBA say? That’s all that’s really going to matter if/when this goes to arbitration. Not how many probowls Jimmy went to as a tight end, not how Jimmy did in the playoffs, none of that. If the legally binding CBA signed by NFL players and managers stipulates that for the purposes of the franchise tag a player’s tag is based on where they line up the majority of snaps then that’s what the final decision will come to. As a side note you would think most of you worked as Saints management with the ferocity of your post against Jimmy. You do know the saints have been getting all pro production from him for less than a million dollars each of the he past 3 seasons right? So why bash him for completing a contract that he obviously out played without complaining? Now he wants as much as possible. Nothing wrong with that.

  31. The poor saints might lose 4 million. Pay this man his money. The salary cap and the tags are just the tools the league uses to artifically deflate players salaries. If any of these players unions had any balls they push for a 70/ 30 split and abolish any limits on salary. Nobodys put a cap on how much money these owners can can take from us. They havent capped how much theyll take from tax payers to put up new stadiums every ten years.

  32. This is an interesting case to be honest. Love graham but in todays nfl graham is a te. Its just the way the game has evolved. I think his agent is reaching and all of this is for nothing cause they will end up coming to an agreement before all is said and done. Another example of how the new cba was a joke. Its never just black and white.

  33. NFL is a business, I cant blame him for trying to get paid.

    For nearly zero consequence he has an opportunity to double his pay. Who wouldn’t give it a shot.

  34. just do not forget as you dopes take the owners side against the players
    They hide behind the labor agreement when it suits them and then lockout the players and hold the game hostage from the players and fans when they wish to get the players to submit to their whims.
    The owner have caved in the rookie salary lotto
    (which is a good thing) but they did so whilst saying
    the money would go to the players that have proven worthy . If jimmy graham has not proven worthy I am not really sure who has. Perhaps the short sighted talent scouts around the league who allowed a hall of fame type player to fall to the 3rd round should all give a portion of their wages to compensate mr graham at the level he deserves. What you say? that is heresy… agreed but why would you people wish him to not get paid all he can get paid ….. my only answer is jealousy.
    If you were the best in the world at your job would you not want to be paid the best why the avg salary of the top 5 why not at least be forced to pay him higher by 5% than the next highest paid player.

    I personally hope that d smith is deposed and the next player chief strikes on day 1 I will hate to see the game held hostage but the owners did it and if they can do it the players have the exact same right when after a bit of review the deal is horrible

  35. As a Titans fan I saw this coming last year. This is the Jared Cook effect. Cook and his agent started all of this, as a result these kind of contract demands will continue. If I were the Saints last year, I would have noted all of Grahams plays and made sure he lined up as a traditional TE 51% of the time.

  36. If the Saints have to tag him as a WR, does this mean fantasy leagues will list him as a WR instead of a TE?

  37. roxtar10 says: Feb 18, 2014 1:29 AM

    I miss when football was about football….


    Football has always been about business and the sport together. Bronco Nagurski retired due to a contract dispute in the prime of his career in 1937, as one of the best players in the league. Let’s not get all rosy and think that money hasn’t had a major impact on the sport since the beginning.

  38. The argument is a “black and white” issue according to the CBA. Graham lined up in the slot or out wide for 67 percent of his snaps last season. The franchise tag designation is based on the position at which the franchise player participated in the most plays. The Saints are playing with fire and will lose.

  39. Relax, everybody. This is all part of the process. They go back and forth and then reach a deal which makes him the highest paid TIGHT END.

  40. This happened with Finley 2 years ago. After the dust settled they compromised on a salary and met halfway between salaries of te and receiver. I believe if you are a te thats what you should be paid. The players and Smith i think are still smarting from the CBA and are trying to weasal anything they can.

  41. One time someone tagged me as an eagles fan, and I filed a grievance. But since i was an eagles fan, I must’ve looked pretty dumb…

  42. When he has been publicly introduced or interviewed and they say “We are proud to have Saints tight end Jimmy Graham on the show today”, Has he ever corrected anyone and said ” No I’m a wide receiver!”???

  43. The league needs to squash this garbage right now. You get franchised at the position you are listed at only……no debates. End of story.

    Now Dennis Pitta wants WR tag too? If Dennis Pitta was a full time WR…….he’d probably be pumping gas at this point.

    If you are a TE you get the TE tag, END OF STORY.


  44. This is all posturing and I’m sure his agent is driving this. I have no issue with the argument. If the saints are lining him up as a wr at times and his production is better than most wr’s then why not press the issue? He is simply trying to maximize his value. It’s called negotiations people.

  45. Jimmy graham does have a case for a wr tag. As a saints fan I love the hell out of jimmy graham but he is not worth weakening are entire roster . We were a number 1 offense before he came and we will be after . If he wants to put money first before his team let him walk and let’s use that money and clear some more cap space to actually build our team . We have to many holes to fill to put all of our money in grahams hands. His realese or trade might be a huge mistake but so would signing him and ignoring our improving defence and o line . If he will sign as a tight end sign him but if he acts greedy release him and we can get some better receiving options through the draft or fa he’s not worth it

  46. When was the last time you saw a real wide receiver lined up on the line next to a tackle? Uh, never.

    That said, there ought to be a case for hybrid players, especially those who are good and versatile enough to play two different positions. Perhaps a compromise can be made and meet in the middle financially between the pay scale of the two positions.

  47. This is nothing more than posturing and a negotiating ploy. The Saints will franchise him, he will file a grievance, it will go to an arbitrator, Graham will find out he is lined up as a WR even LESS than other TE’s who are paid TE money (like Tony Gonzales), he will lose the case, he and the Saints will then sign a lucrative long term agreement before training camp., and all this sturm und drang will amount to zip by the start of next season.

  48. The gap between players that get paid vs not is too large – when production is really all over the map as it relates to income. I hope NFL teams can start to push the trend downward or to a format where a current year’s production is what a player actually gets paid for. No “what if”.

    Some of these players basically play “all-out” til they get their payday and then stop.

  49. If you do analyst work, but you happen to be a janitor at the same company…what do you think you should be paid as?

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