Why hasn’t Graham filed a grievance?

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Last month, it was reported that Saints tight end Jimmy Graham would file an “immediate grievance” if tagged as a tight end and not a receiver.

It’s been four days since the NFL’s Management Council applied the tight end version of the tag to Graham.  And yet there has been no grievance, immediate or otherwise.

So what’s going on?  We’ve identified two possible explanations.

First, Graham and his agents may be waiting for a possible offer sheet.  If, as of 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 11, another team presents Graham with a multi-year deal that he accepts, it doesn’t matter whether he’s tagged as a tight end or a receiver.  The offer sheet trumps the designation, if/when Graham signs it.

Second, Graham and the Saints could be working toward a long-term deal.  By not pulling the pin on the grievance grenade, the process can proceed with Graham being valued as a hybrid tight end/receiver on a long-term deal that pays Graham with the stroke of a pen much more money than he has earned in his entire four-year NFL career.  And if the possibility of a grievance that Graham could win merely looming but not activated, it’s easier for both sides to proceed in an amicable way, without the Saints having to make arguments at arbitration that could get under Graham’s skin.

Graham doesn’t seem to be looking for a fight.  He has never complained about his situation, even after two tight ends drafted in his class (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) got long-term contract.  Graham didn’t point out that he hasn’t gotten paid when Gronkowski suddenly couldn’t stay on the field and when Hernandez couldn’t stay among the free.  Graham never complained about bearing the risk of injury for four full seasons of football.

The only thing Graham ever has said about his situation is that he’s not “keen” on the franchise tag.  That’s it.  He hasn’t said the Saints aren’t treating him fairly, and he hasn’t tried to ruffle feathers via media leaks.  He’s happy in New Orleans, he wants to stay, and he’s not inclined to push the situation to the limit.

So it’s possible that Graham himself has decided not to finalize the battle lines by filing the grievance, in the hopes that the Saints will make him a fair offer on a long-term deal.

The only problem with that possibility is that the Saints, like most teams, operate on deadlines.  The deadline, under the labor deal, arises in 50 days from the application of the tight end version of the franchise tag.  Graham may not want to wait 50 days for the deal to get done, especially once other players start signing big-money contracts starting Tuesday.

24 responses to “Why hasn’t Graham filed a grievance?

  1. It’d be nice to see in this article exactly how much less he’d make tagged as a TE compared to being called a WR. Especially since that is the central point to the story. He wouldn’t care what they called him if the dollars were the same.

  2. There is also the risk that Graham loses the grievance and his negotiation leverage plummets.

    The threat of filing a grievance may be worth more than actually filing it.

  3. They are going to reach a long term deal and all you speculators who are predicting/rooting for an acrimonious fight are going to continue to look like idiots.

  4. One way or another this will be resolved; as a Saints fan I totally trust Mickey and how he handles the cap and resulting personnel moves. This team is built to win now; just moving the pieces around a bit…

  5. They’re making him a nice long-term contract offer as we speak that will probably make him the highest paid TE ever.

    ….if they’re not, there’s something seriously wrong with the organization.

  6. mogogo1 says: Mar 7, 2014 11:10 AM

    It’d be nice to see in this article exactly how much less he’d make tagged as a TE compared to being called a WR. Especially since that is the central point to the story. He wouldn’t care what they called him if the dollars were the same.
    This has been widely documented on this site. The difference is about $5M a year for the franchise tag from TE to WR.

  7. It’s also still a little early in the process and Graham knows that a fight is going to require him to establish himself as a holdout, and that’s a path he’d rather avoid having to take if he doesn’t have to and he’d rather let them be the ones to initiate a battle through their choices that leave him no choice. It’s not a fight until the bell rings and the ball is in the team’s court to decide if it needs to be rung at all.

    If the team doesn’t want Graham bad enough and nobody is willing to give up 2 1st Rounders, then Graham can get a better deal from another team if the Saints are willing to trade his rights for less compensation. The less the required draft material the more money that is available to Graham. He is being patient because he knows he is in the stronger position anyhow and the Saints have to pay him or trade him or they will get stuck in a really bad spot. There’s nothing to decide now and the Saints can worry about how to solve his problem on their time and it’s on them to let him know what they come up with when they come up with something.

    They will eventually choose to overpay him in their minds, or trade him for less than 2 1st Rounders, or let him rot as a holdout. Which one are they picking and when will they decide? Surely they wouldn’t pick the 3rd option so no reason to file a grievance.

  8. I believe a previous article mentioned $5 million reasons why he would rather be tagged a WR than a TE. That kind of money is worth sitting down and talking about 🙂

  9. Maybe the third option is simply that Graham is a class act. He knows his agents will take care of the money and he doesn’t need to stir drama. Part of his appeal to teams is the amount of poise and class he shows, as well as being the consummate team player. If the Saints don’t show that they appreciate his value, I may end up having to question my loyalties as a fan.

  10. It sounds like it was the media and his agent causing all the fake controversy and not Graham himself.

  11. (start sarcasm)
    If I was in his position I would most definitely not file the grievance so I look like a “good teammate” while continuing to add to my stats while catching passes from one of the best QBs in the league. At the end of the season after possibly getting SB ring I would not entertain any offer from the Saints and sign a $30 mil per year contract with a team that has the cap space to afford me because they don’t have a franchise QB. Then I would fade away into mediocrity because I no longer have anyone to throw me the ball and prove what a good WR… I mean TE… that I actually am.
    (end sarcasm)

  12. Wow how about that? An athlete that respects his team and the team respects him. And nobody taking shots at each other in the media over a contract issue. Coincidence?

  13. Graham is overseas w/the USO/NFL tour. Let the troops have a blast w/him while he is there. Don’t burden him w/a bunch of b.s until he gets back.

  14. There’s a lot of TEs around the league rooting for him to file a grievance. If you could pick one guy as your poster child for a hybrid-TE/WR designation he’s your man.

  15. My understanding of the rules governing the franchise tag is that if Graham files a grievance and wins, he is not entitled to the higher WR money; instead he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If my understanding is correct and the league drags out the process, causing him to miss a considerable amount of time, and therefore opportunity, in free agency, he would have to sue the league for compensation. His current strategy may be motivated by these legal considerations, which are much more complicated than if it were just which amount of tag money he gets.

  16. Jimmy Graham wants to remain a Saint. Saints want Jimmy to remain a Saint. Saints also need to work out a long term deal in the best interest of the club to lower his cap number for year 1 to be able to resign FA’s like Zach Strief and maybe a CB in the open market. Moore and PT cuts create a bit of space but not enough for the bigger moves needed for free agency.

    Bottom line is the Saints and Jimmy need to close a gap of about 9.75 mill per year and 11 mill per year. This bit of difference is the key to getting a long term deal done. Both sides have EXTREMELY fair points that make their argument strong. It’s in the best interest of all to get this gap closed sooner and more amicably.

    Also the article is right on, Jimmy has NEVER complained. Has played through injuries for the betterment of the team. He’s been nothing short of an outstanding citizen of our organization.

  17. Jimmy has proven to be a class act and consummate pro. He is arguably the best tight end in football today but he also has arguably the best QB throwing to him and directing traffic to get him open. The Saints don’t need Jimmy to win a Super Bowl and they don’t need to spend a lot of money to keep him on board.

    Jimmy is a great player and a fan favorite but in the big picture the Saints would be better off to get themselves some name brand receivers and a couple servicable TE’s. A few years ago Visante Shianco turned in an amazing season with Ol’ #4 at the helm. After #4 was gone, Shianco dropped off the map. Great QB’s like Drew Brees elevate those around them. That has to be part of the monetary equation.

  18. Doesn’t matter league said he’s a TE already and he’ll probably lose. they should put something in the contract about improving his blocking if he wants to get top money

  19. johnclaytonsponytail says:
    Mar 7, 2014 4:48 PM

    Doesn’t matter league said he’s a TE already and he’ll probably lose. they should put something in the contract about improving his blocking if he wants to get top money

    Doesn’t matter that he can’t block, since they only use him as a WR

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