Jimmy Graham’s arbitration hearing reportedly took place earlier this week, and the Saints TE may not be too happy about what went down.
Head coach Sean Payton testified. And he said that Graham should be classified as a tight end, not a wide receiver, according to a Pro Football Talk report.
Both the league and the team seem to be in agreement on what the position entails. Even if a tight end lines up in the slot 100 percent of the time, he’d still be classified as a TE as far as franchise tag purposes go. And while Graham only lined up as a traditional tight end 33 percent of the time, if the arbitrator rules against him and sides with the team and league, he wouldn’t be classified as a wide receiver. And the difference in pay is significant, as Graham would lose out on an additional $5.3 million in 2014.
A ruling from the arbitrator is expected to come next week. But things are certainly heating up, and they’re not looking good for Graham. Not to mention how awkward it’s going to be in the locker room, as he knows Payton didn’t side with him. That being said, for salary cap purposes, the team’s head coach did what he had to do to ensure the team stays below the number.
The two sides will be anxiously awaiting the ruling, as the deadline to reach a long-term deal is July 15. If it doesn’t happen by then, Graham will be forced to play for the franchise tag in the 2014 season, and will have to wait on his big payday.