After today’s Pro Bowl practice, Jimmy Graham was asked about Saints general manager Mickey Loomis’ comments earlier this week at the Senior Bowl, where Loomis confirmed what many already thought, that the Saints were prepared to use the franchise tag on Graham if they could not come to terms on a long-term-deal, as Kevin Patra of NFL.com writes.
“I’m not keen on the franchise tag, that would be really unfortunate, but that is really all I have to say about that one,” Graham responded. “If that happens, it doesn’t really matter what I prefer.”
In what is gearing up to be an ugly contract negotiation that very well indeed may end up with Graham playing next season under the franchise tag, Loomis also added a little fuel to the fire when discussing Graham’s position on the football field.
“This business about what position he is? I think he’s a tight end,” Loomis said. “That’s where we drafted him, that’s where we play him. … That’s what makes him valuable.”
Being a tight end makes Graham valuable specifically because the Saints could place the franchise tag on him for a much cheaper price. Last year, a franchised tight end would cost roughly $6MM, where a franchise tag on a wide receiver would cost in the area of $10.5MM, a huge difference for a team trying to fill its roster against the cap.
His position is a point of contention because according to ESPN Stats & Information, Graham lined up as a tight end only 33% of snaps for the Saints offense. The other 67% he was either lined up in the slot or out wide.
While most pundits and fans expect Graham never to hit the open market this offseason, it does not mean that both parties will be happy during these contract talks.