NEW ORLEANS -- Mark your calendars.
The grievance that has consumed Saints fans since the NFL Players Association filed it on behalf of tight end Jimmy Graham on May 7 is expected to have some resolution by Thursday, according to ESPN.
Arbitrator Stephen Burbank expects to inform sides of his ruling on Jimmy Graham’s grievance vs Saints on July 3, “no sooner, no later.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 30, 2014
Burbank, who presided over the June 17-18 hearing in Metairie, will decide whether the NFL’s Management Council incorrectly designated Graham as a tight end.
Graham’s side contends he should be designatied as a wide receiver -- and thus paid as such -- especially after leading the league in touchdowns (16) last season and lining up out wide on two-thirds of the Saints’ snaps. 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.
The Saints, meanwhile, argue that Graham has been given the proper tag, using as evidence, according to multiple reports, Graham’s own Twitter profile, in which he calls himself a tight end. Moreover, Graham has twice been slected to the Pro-Bowl as a tight end, and in 2013, earned first team All-Pro honors as a tight end.
Should Burbank rule in Graham’s favor, he’ll earn 12.312 million under the franchise tag in 2014, instead of $7.053 million as it currently stands.
Still, both parties would prefer to reach a long-term deal by the NFL’s July 15 deadline, after which Graham would be forced to accept the franchise tag or sit out the year.
Most believe Graham will ultimately become the leagues highest paid tight end, and its first $10 million per year player at that position.