The biggest fallout from Stephen Burbank’s ruling that Jimmy Graham is a tight end for franchise tag purposes is the leverage that the Saints gained from this decision. While the team suddenly has the additional leverage of holding a $7.035MM franchise tag over his head, the Saints have not withdrawn or reduced their offer which would make him the highest paid tight end in NFL history, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
The Saints reportedly had this offer ready back in February, but it was not even close to the $12MM average annual salary Graham was hoping to obtain. If Graham had won his grievance, the dollar figure he would have been franchised at would have been $12.3MM. Even if the arbitrator ruled a settlement in between the tight end and wide receiver, it would have provided Graham with significant negotiating power.
Florio writes that the team is still confident in its ability to get a long-term deal finished, despite the July 15 deadline. He believes Graham would have a hard time turning down an offer that paid him an average of $9.5MM per year with $15.4MM or more guaranteed.
Graham still has a chance to appeal Burbank’s decision, and has 10 days from his ruling to do so. However Florio still expects a long-term deal to be reached within the next 11 days.