The grievance over Jimmy Graham’s franchise tag is underway and Broncos tight end Julius Thomas is paying close attention.
Thomas is entering the final year of his rookie contract and stands to make a big raise before next season gets underway. As a result, he’s watching how things play out with Graham’s bid to be designated a wide receiver for franchise tag purposes “because it could probably come back to affect a lot of us tight ends.” The Saints and the league classify Graham as a tight end, but Thomas argues that the position shouldn’t matter as much as the production.
“Does it matter if he’s a tight end, or if he calls himself a slot receiver or a running back?” Thomas said. “I mean, if you’re going to have double-digit touchdowns and contribute a bunch of yards in the receiving game, I just say that you’re a guy that makes great plays and are a value to your team. So I don’t know why the argument necessarily comes down to either you’re a tight end or a receiver. I think that if you’re a guy that makes plays, that’s how you should be valued.”
It may not matter on the field, but the position matters because that’s the way the CBA has been set up. Thomas, who lines up in various spots around the offense, would likely try to make a case that he’s worth more than the tight end tag if Graham’s grievance is successful.
Of course, the Broncos already have a top-flight wide receiver they need to pay in the near future as Demaryius Thomas is also in the final year of his rookie deal. Getting a deal done with one would leave the franchise tag available for the other, although it is hard to predict which way would work out best for the Broncos in 2015 and beyond. The resolution of Graham’s grievance could provide some idea even if it makes it more difficult for the Broncos to hold onto both of their pass-catching Thomases.