There are two words synonymous with Jimmy Graham right now — franchise tag. It’s what nearly everyone agrees is coming the tight end’s way. But although most of us view Graham as a tight end, that’s not how he sees it.
While a franchise tag is most likely going to be placed on Graham, we still don’t know what type of franchise tag it will be. It could be a tight end tag or it could be a wide receiver tag. What’s the difference? Only about $5 million.
Graham is technically a TE. However, his camp is arguing that he should be tagged as a WR because played out of the slot or out wide on 67 percent of the snaps in 2013. If he’s not tagged as a WR, Graham is expected to file a grievance with the NFLPA.
To most of us, Graham is a hybrid player. I view him as a TE first and WR second, but the ratio is pretty close. He’s a TE that lines up outside to create matchup problems. He’s not a WR that lines up at TE. But at the same time, I wouldn’t blame him a bit if he files a grievance. If there’s ever been an exception to the franchise tag rules, it’s Graham’s current situation.
There just aren’t many players like Graham in the NFL today. He’s unique because of his size and speed, so he deserves to make more money that the average tight end. If the New Orleans Saints are going to be tightwads and not spend the extra money, then they’re just going to anger him. He’s already not happy about being tagged in the first place and this is just going to make the process even rougher.
I don’t blame the Saints from a business perspective. They’re simply trying to make the best deal for the franchise this offseason. But the reality is that they don’t have much of a franchise without Jimmy Graham. Ultimately you have to think he’ll sign a long-term deal, but in the meantime, this franchise tag situation is set to get ugly.