Jan 11, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) catches a pass during warm ups before the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Graham ruled a TE, all is right in the universe

The much-anticipated ruling between the New Orleans Saints and star tight end Jimmy Graham is out, as the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that arbitrator Stephen Burbank has ruled in favor of the Saints and labeled Graham as a tight end. It’s a positive call for the league, since dubbing Graham as a wide receiver could have set off a whole chain reaction about how both positions are defined. Of course, players like Julius Thomas won’t be happy with the ruling since it changes their future and potential tagging dollars, but hopefully the cost of TEs rises as the quality and importance of the position rises. The likes of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro, and, of course, Eric Ebron were all coveted heavily on draft day, just as Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert were in 2013.

Graham is fully expected to appeal Burbank’s ruling now, especially since the loss means that he will be paid $5.3 million less if he ends up playing 2014 on the franchise tag. Either way, I would be shocked if both sides don’t agree to a contract extension, because I’m sure there is huge interest in getting him locked up. The Saints know Graham is an elite player and valuable mis-match maker, and Graham knows that he’s in a great position with a Super Bowl contender, Drew Brees at the helm, and weapons to take pressure off of him in the passing game.

Ebron stated something interesting earlier this offseason, as he suggested that the league make a special designation for the “joker” TE so that these heated rulings can be avoided. But with the league ruling against Dennis Pitta and Graham, it’s clear that “joker” players are rightfully viewed as TEs; that’s just the way the position has evolved today to differentiate between specialized blockers, pass-catchers, and the guys who can do it all like Rob Gronkowski or Jason Witten. Precedent has been set, and it’s clear that players like Graham derive their value from creating mis-matches as bigger players lined up in different regions of the field as TEs with WRs working symbiotically to make this mis-matches possible in the first place.

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Tags: Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints

  • trinity

    Hey Jimmy, you mad bro? Hahahaha. Even as a saints fan, I laughed picturing his reaction to the news that he is indeed a tight end. No surprise though. The NFL had to know that if they let Jimmy have this, they would be letting just about every other tight end have it as well.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Yeah, Graham didn’t suddenly become a WR during his time in the NFL, his time in the NFL coincided with more value placed on more athletic TEs and teams becoming smarter (thank you, Belichick) and using athletic TEs in a role that made them valuable mis-match makers in the passing game.

      • trinity

        And he knows he’s a tight end too. He goes to tight end meetings, he was drafted as a tight end, and he declared himself a tight end. He tried to pull a quick fast one when money got involved, and even as a fan I found that lame. And it’s not like they are going to pay him chump change as a tight end. I think he should be the highest paid tight end in the game, even more so than gronkowski.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          Well, it’s well within his right to pursue the most amount of money that he can and take care of himself. Honestly, it would be a bit bizarre for him not to.

          • trinity

            I would probably agree if he was going to be underpaid as a tight end, but he isn’t. I’m just glad it’s over.

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