MONDAY, 9:03am: The grievance hearing for Graham is scheduled for June 17-18, per Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
SATURDAY, 8:49pm: Amidst this week’s draft news, the fact that the NFLPA officially filed a grievance on behalf of Jimmy Graham‘s franchise tag positional designation flew relatively under the radar. But assuming Graham and the Saints don’t reach a contract agreement anytime soon, GM Mickey Loomis expects the grievance hearing to happen in about a month, according to Larry Holder of the Times-Picayune (via Twitter).
The Saints used their franchise tag on Graham earlier in the offseason, locking in a one-year contract offer worth the amount for a tight end: $7.035MM. However, now that a grievance has been filed, an arbitrator will be tasked with determining whether Graham should actually be considered a wide receiver, since he lined up as a wideout for about two-thirds of his snaps in 2013.
The argument made on behalf of Graham will suggest that, by the letter of the law, the standout pass-catcher should be eligible for the franchise salary for a receiver, which is expected to be about $11.5MM. The CBA dictates that a franchise player’s position is the one “at which the franchise player participated in the most plays during the prior league year.”
Of course, this process could be avoided if the Saints and Graham agree to a long-term deal. But it’s been more than two months since the club used its franchise tag on the 27-year-old, and there haven’t been any reports of progress in negotiations. According to a February report, New Orleans was willing to make Graham the NFL’s highest-paid tight end, exceeding Rob Gronkowski‘s $9MM annual salary. However, Graham was said to be seeking a salary that would pay him like a top-five receiver, in the neighborhood of $12MM per year.