3:42pm: In a somewhat unexpected turn, Graham has officially appealed Burbank’s ruling of his franchise tag position, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). A three-person appeals board will now revisit the case and either confirm or overturn Burbank’s decision, which stated that Graham should be considered a tight end rather than a wide receiver.
Although not appealing would have been a stronger indication from Graham’s camp that multiyear negotiations are progressing well, the appeal doesn’t necessarily rule out a long-term agreement by tomorrow afternoon. The threat of Burbank’s decision being overturned may serve as leverage for Graham’s side in contract discussions — if the two sides strike an agreement on an extension tomorrow, that appeal could be dropped.
2:28pm: As I outlined this morning, Jimmy Graham‘s camp has until 3:00pm CT today to appeal the decision made by arbitrator Stephen Burbank earlier this month, which assigned the Saints star the tight end franchise salary ($7.035MM) rather than the wide receiver tag ($12.312MM). However, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that an appeal isn’t currently expected.
When I discussed the Graham situation today, I pointed out that an appeal from Graham’s camp could reduce the likelihood of a long-term agreement between the tight end and the Saints. After all, there’d be little reason to appeal the 27-year-old’s 2014 franchise salary in an effort to gain the extra $5MM+ if he were simply going to play under a new long-term deal anyway. Conversely, if no appeal comes, it could signal that the two sides are moving closer to a compromise.
Of course, there are other reasons why Graham’s camp may not be inclined to file an appeal. They may be pessimistic that Burbank’s ruling would have a chance at being overturned, or perhaps turning down the opportunity to appeal represents a sign of good faith as negotiations between the two sides continue. In any case, we should soon find out definitively whether or not an appeal is made, and within another 24 hours, we’ll learn whether Graham and the Saints can strike a multiyear extension to keep him in New Orleans.