Saints Tight End Jimmy Graham Lost in Hybrid Land
The New Orleans Saints and Jimmy Graham are currently engaged in an interesting discussion regarding position classification.
This could prove to be a very high-priced difference of opinion for both parties.
The Saints have placed the franchise tag on Graham, as expected. The problem for Graham is that the Saints have tagged him as a tight end as opposed to a wide receiver, which turns out to be a rather costly distinction. Jimmy would receive $12.1million if designated as a wide receiver, but a little over $7million as a tight end. While $7million is a nice chunk of change to us lay people, the $5million difference is also a tidy sum.
Team Graham will very likely file a grievance with the league to have his classification changed to wide receiver. Personally, I think Jimmy is an absolute monster and therefore should be classified as exactly that. I'm not sure there's any precedent for a man-beast franchise tag, but it may be justified in this particular case.
Interestingly enough, Graham identifies himself as a tight end on his personal Twitter account, which does not exactly support his claim. He is also a private pilot, which has no bearing on his grievance, but it's still a nice fun fact about Jimmy.
The final determination on Graham’s positional designation is an important one for the league and its employees going forward. It was inevitable that this would become an issue at some point, as these hybrid players are currently popular in the modern NFL. This trend should certainly continue, so the positional semantics will need to be worked out.
Both sides have an argument here. From the player perspective, Graham has produced numbers that would make most wide receivers envious, let alone tight ends. In addition, he has frequently lined up as a wide receiver, creating those pesky matchup problems for opposing defenses.
The Saints predictably tagged Graham as a tight end, which is his official position, and are certainly within their rights to do so. They will no doubt try to lock up Jimmy long-term for as little as possible, but they also need to be reasonable. Graham is a dominant player just entering his prime and should be compensated accordingly, regardless of position.
In the meantime, Jimmy can perhaps secure the services of a Shaman to guide him through this confusing land of spirits and hybrids.