Earlier this week, the arbitrator between the New Orleans Saints and Jimmy Graham decided that Graham would be considered a tight end for franchise tag purposes, meaning he would be getting paid quite a lot less money.
Although Graham played split out or off the line in well over 50% of his snaps last year, the arbitrator still ruled that he would considered a tight end instead of a wide receiver.
While the news is obviously a crushing blow for Graham, according to ProFootballTalk, the Saints “won’t use the ruling that Graham is a tight end for franchise tag purposes to alter a proposal that would make Graham the highest-paid tight end in NFL history”.
The deadline to sign a long-term deal with Graham is July 15th, and the team is apparently very optimistic that the deal will get done for about $9.5 million per year, totaling about $27.536 million over three years.
With a lot of guaranteed money on the line, Graham and his team will likely cut their losses and end up signing the deal with the Saints.
His other option is to file an appeal on the arbitrator’s decision, but he has yet to do so. If the Saints and Graham can not reach a deal before the deadline, then you can expect Graham to in fact file the appeal in hopes of getting a higher paying franchise tender.
With Graham being prone to injuries, guaranteed money from the Saints could ultimately become the deciding factor in whether or not Graham signs the long term contract in the next eleven days.