Remember the relentless coverage of Drew Brees' contract squabble with the Saints back in 2012? Well, buckle up folks, because the Jimmy Graham show is in town this year, and it has a lot more question marks and room for speculation than Brees' deal did.
Act One of the soap opera just came to a close. Graham was ruled a tight end by an arbitrator for the sake of the franchise tag. He wanted to be considered a wide receiver since that tag amount was worth $12.3 million, while the TE tag is $7 million for the year.
OK, so he's a tight end. Easy peezy, lets get a long term deal worked out, right? Ahh, not so fast. Graham still has a 10-day window to appeal the arbitrator's decision to a 3 member panel. As of right now, we still dont know his plans, as Graham's camp has been quiet since the ruling.
This presents a new problem, because the clock is ticking to get a long term contract worked out and the deadline to do so is July 15th. If the two sides don't come to an agreement by then, Graham would have to play under the one year franchise tag or (dramatic pause) choose to sit out the season. Sitting out doesnt seem like a likely option, though, since Graham would be leaving a $7 millon dollar stack of cash on the table. According to the NFL Network, negotiations between the Saints and Graham's agent are at GROUND ZERO! Basically meaning the two sides are starting all over, back to square one.
But wait, that's not all! Tell 'em what else we have, ProFootballTalk.com! Well now that the Saints have a starting point for contract talks for Jimmy Graham, so do other teams. Would another ballclub really part ways with two first round draft picks for a tight end? And could one of the teams be the hated Atlanta Falcons who just had their Pro Bowl TE retire? Whew, I dunno about you folks, but I need a cocktail.
To recap: We need to find out now if Graham will appeal the arbitrator's ruling. If he does, who knows how long the panel will take to make a decision. Getting a long term contract worked out by the 15th would be very difficult is he goes this route,
If Graham accepts the arbitrator's ruling, he and the Saints could be negotiating right now trying to get that multi-year deal worked out. Tick-tock, tick-tock!