July 15 looms for Graham, Saints

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As the system arbitrator ponders the evidence and prepares to issue a ruling on the question of whether Saints tight end Jimmy Graham should be regarded as a tight end or a receiver for franchise tag purposes, a key date looms on the calendar.

If the Saints and Graham don’t work out a long-term deal by July 15, Graham may sign only a one-year contract.

The only problem?  Nothing in the Collective Bargaining Agreement mandates a final ruling by July 15.  Article 15 of the CBA doesn’t impose a specific timetable for the issuance of a decision by the system arbitrator.  In theory, the system arbitrator can drag his feet until after the deadline passes.

After a decision is rendered, it won’t be final until the losing party exercises its right to an appeal before a three-person panel.  The portion of Article 15 that addresses the appeals process establishes various dates and deadlines for exercising appeal rights and filing briefs and conducting oral argument, but it also allows either side to request an expedited schedule upon a showing of good cause.

It’s unclear whether either side has sought an expedited ruling from the system arbitrator, or whether the arbitrator or the appeals panel would react favorably to such a request from Graham, who didn’t move immediately to file a grievance when the tight end version of the franchise tag was applied to him in February.  If he had, the process surely would have finished by now.

Maybe that’s the way Graham wanted it.  The absence of a ruling before July 15 could be the best way to nudge the two sides toward resolving the dispute via a long-term contract.  That wouldn’t resolve the issue moving forward, which would continue to hover over future pass-catching tight ends who line up wide or in the slot more than they line up tight to the tackle.

Still, an agreement between the Saints and Graham would be the best outcome for both sides, even if it causes the ambiguity to linger for every other team.

15 responses to “July 15 looms for Graham, Saints

  1. I hope the Saints don’t get to resign Graham.

    He deserves better.

    Give the Minnesota Vikings our deserved Lombardi Trophy from 2009.

  2. Good for Graham, this guy has done nothing but play his heart out for the Saints. Hopefully he gets to go to a team where he is valued.

  3. Vikings fans still whining about 09′? Get over it. Graham deserves every penny he gets, when it comes to the salary cap though the Saints need it to be a deal that works for them too.

  4. You guys do know this has nothing to do with the Saints, right? This is Jimmy -v- The NFL. The Saints merely slapped a franchise tag on him after offering him a large contract that he refused in an attempt to get the WR tag for even more money. The Saints aren’t fighting with him or arguing with him. This is him and the NFL, so don’t act like the Saints don’t appreciate him.

  5. Graham wasn’t even on the team in 2009!

    Saints and Graham just need to get a deal done so they can continue to dominate the Falcons!

  6. I just don’t get the “the Saints are doing Jimmy wrong” or “the Saints aren’t showing Jimmy the love” comments.

    So you’re saying the Saints offering Jimmy Graham 10.5 million dollars a year and becoming the highest paid TE, and he is a TE, is showing him he’s not “valued”? Give me a break!!!

    I don’t understand what some of you are thinking. I have a feeling that many of you who say “the Saints should pay the man” would be the first to decry that the Saints have put themselves in a bad situation financially and won’t be able to pay anyone else. Plus, some of you make it sound like getting 10.5 million dollars a year is chump change and not “paying the man”.

    Maybe the Saints would like to keep some money in the coffers so that they can pay the up-and-coming young talent they have, like Cameron Jordan, Junior Galette, Kenny Stills, Kenny Vaccaro, etc…. Is it so difficult to believe that the Saints would like to be able to afford to field a competitive team year in and year out, which will require them to be able to pay more than just Brees, Bird, and Graham to do so?

    Really? 10.5 million a year isn’t indicative of “showing the love” to Jimmy Graham (WHO IS A TIGHT END!)?

  7. Graham = money grabbing little brat…. Graham, you’re a tight end, deal with it. And you’re still useless against Seattle…. Hahahaha
    Saints, give graham his one year contract then let that B go somewhere else.

  8. Saints won the bowl without him. Hes a luxury…not a necessity. With that being said, I think the saints are one of the best teams in the nfl. They will NEVER pay a player more that he’s worth….and are always fair. Everybody that plays here never wants to leave….and the city is great ….I see x-saints players everywhere I go. When they come here it’s home forever….who dat!

  9. And when u get done he still should recieve wide receiver money he lined up 60 percent outside and in the slot runs like a receiver with way better hands and size doesnt block great sounds like a receiver to me they would be fools not to over pay him cuz if they dont 31 other teams will take him over there 1 of there top 2 pass catchers

  10. that is why Minn. is the “land of 10,000 lakes” the Viqueen fans have never stop crying since they lost their 1st thru 4th Superbowls and continues to this day. Enough water there to fill all of them. GET OVER IT! I agree with one of the previous posts, this is not the Saints vs Graham, IMO it is his agent trying to get as much in his pocket as he can. Jimmy knows he is a tight end and should be paid as the highest TE in the league (which he was offered) and his agent is pushing this WR crap. Jimmy is just along for the ride. As far as all these nay sayers (Seahawks) you would take him on your team in a blink of an eye.

  11. Seahawk fan here, I doubt he would be welcome on the team to begin with.
    Seattle has little need for a tight end that wants to be paid WR franchise money.
    I think Jimmy sealed the deal when he wouldn’t move from the Seahawk side of the field when asked.. and responded with “I’m Jimmy Graham!”, as if that would give him special rights…

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