The New Orleans Saints have caught a huge break at the expense of tight end Jimmy Graham. The All-Pro was challenging the Saints' use of the franchise tag on him and that he deserved to be tagged as a wide receiver, not a tight end.
The NFL Players Association had filed a grievance on behalf of Graham in May arguing that he deserved to be designated as a wide receiver under the franchise tag because he spent more time out wide and in the slot than at the line of the scrimmage like a normal tight end.
Arbitrator Stephen Burbank has ruled in favor of the Saints, meaning they will have to pay him just $7 million instead of $11 million.
The Jimmy Graham decision is out. Burbank has ruled he’s a tight end. The Saints have won— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 2, 2014
The #Saints can now franchise tag Jimmy Graham as a tight end at $7.053M. A savings of $5M vs a WR tag— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 2, 2014
Why was Jimmy Graham ruled a TE? He’s in TE meetings, #Saints drafted him as a TE… and yes, I’m told his twitter bio is in the ruling— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 2, 2014
Graham's argument is that he should be considered a receiver because he lined up either in the slot or out wide 67 percent of the time last season. The collective bargaining agreement states the franchise-tag designation is based on the position "at which the Franchise player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year."
In four seasons, Graham has been one of the best pass catchers at any position, totaling 301 receptions for 3,863 yards and 41 touchdowns.