Graham has three years to challenge his franchise-tag designation

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The more I know about the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the more I realize there’s plenty more to know that I don’t already, you know, know.

The lengthy document creates multiple avenues for resolving disputes.  The primary three are:  (1) injury grievances; (2) non-injury grievances; and (3) system arbitrations.  Each device has a different deadline for proceeding.  For injury grievances, the player has 25 days from termination of his contract.  For non-injury grievances, the player has fifty days.  For system arbitrations, the player has a whopping three years.

And I did not know that.

Certain specific provisions of the CBA fall under system arbitration.  One of them is Article 10, which sets forth the rules regarding the franchise tag.  Thus, if/when a player disagrees with the specific type of franchise tag applied to him, he has not 50 days but a whopping three years to do something about it.

As a result, Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis is right.  April 22 is irrelevant.  The key date becomes March 3, 2017.

Of course, Graham can file the grievance whenever he wants.  Maybe he’ll do it on April 22.  Maybe he’ll do it on May 22.  Maybe he’ll do it right now.  (He supposedly was going to do it “immediately.”)

It’s clear that Graham doesn’t want to unnecessarily inflame the situation by forcing the player and the team to assume battle stations over whether his snaps taken in the slot should be treated as snaps taken as a receiver or as a tight end.  At some point, however, he’ll come off as weak and uncertain regarding his position.  For now, he’s avoiding the possibility of a backlash from Saints fans who may not like the fact that he’s trying to blow up the team’s cap situation, that he thinks he’s not a tight end, and that $7 million for 2014 somehow isn’t enough.

It could be that Graham is giving the Saints until July 15, the deadline for signing a franchise player to a multi-year deal, to give him the contract he wants.  If they don’t, then he’d presumably file the grievance, claiming he’s actually a receiver.

It’s a $5.2 million question.  But Graham won’t actually lose any money until Week One, when he gets his first paycheck under the one-year franchise tag.  For now, then, there’s no hurry to get the question resolved.

8 responses to “Graham has three years to challenge his franchise-tag designation

  1. Assume Graham is categorized as a tight end. He obviously creates far more matchup challenges and TDs than any other tight end. Thus, Graham should be compensated well above what the other productive tight ends are earning.

  2. For just one game… Put Graham on the outside as a #1 receiver…. Not the slot. See how well he does then. I’ll bet he’ll be fast to Shut up about being paid as a receiver.

  3. If he wants to be declared a WR, that is where he should be listed on the pro bowl ballot. I’m pretty sure all of the players have pro bowl language in their contracts. I’m also pretty sure that Tony G (at Graham’s age) threw a block or two and didn’t come out for running plays.

  4. 3 years??? How does that even work?? Can he take the Tight End franchise tag this year and the next and still come back in 3 years and say, “Well, you know I should have been paid like a Wide Receiver”???!

  5. “3 years??? How does that even work?? Can he take the Tight End franchise tag this year and the next and still come back in 3 years and say, “Well, you know I should have been paid like a Wide Receiver”???!”

    Yes he can, you are about to witness more Loomis genius. Just another way to move money further down the line so everyone can be signed.

  6. …I was reading today that the Saints are now $3.6 million UNDER the cap.

    That leaves a little room to sign the rookies.

    Mike, when are you going to do another update post about the cap numbers or overall free-agency moves thus far?

    What Loomis has been doing with the Saints is miraculous. The Saints are supposed to be in “cap hell,” but Loomis just keeps getting it done, signing free agents (Byrd), matching offer sheets (Rafael Bush’s offer from Atlanta), signing vets (Champ Bailey), etc.

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