Jimmy Graham Officially Ruled a Tight End
It's official. Jimmy Graham is a Tight End! I think Saints fans knew that already, but now the NFL has confirmed that an arbitrator has solidified his roster spot as a tight end after a hearing began two weeks ago. However, the saga might still continue.
Third party arbitrator Stephen Burbank has ruled that Graham is a tight end. This decision, of course, means that Graham will receive the Tight End Franchise Tag salary next season of approximately seven million dollars rather than the Wide Receiver Franchise Tag salary of approximately 12 million dollars.
Graham's camp can still appeal Burbank's decision. A decision to do so would likely be made by the NFL Player's Association rather than Graham himself.
Burbank summed up his decision like this,
In sum, I conclude that Mr. Graham was at the position of tight end for purposes of Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) when, at the snap, he was aligned adjacent to or 'arm's-length' from the nearest offensive lineman and also when he was aligned in the slot, at least if such alignment brought him within four yards of such lineman. Since Mr. Graham was so aligned for a majority of plays during the 2013 League Year, the NFLPA's request for 'a declaration that the correct tender for Mr. Graham is at the wide receiver position' is denied.
You can read the complete ruling here.
This ruling is obviously in the New Orleans Saints favor. Had the arbitrator ruled Graham a wide receiver, it would have cost the Saints five million dollars toward the salary cap; which would have put the over the maximum. If that happens, the Saints would need to cut salaries from the roster or restructure current contracts to meet the salary cap requirements.