A two week period begins today where NFL teams can use the franchise tag on one of their pending unrestricted free agents. The Saints have 14 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 11th.
The biggest name is tight end Jimmy Graham. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says the Saints and Graham are not close on a new contract and the team will likely tag Graham.
Graham caught a career high 16 touchdown passes last year. If the Saints use the tag on Graham, he and his agent believe that he should be tagged as a wide receiver, since he lined up more as a receiver. Graham would get paid more if he's tagged as a wide out. Detillier says an arbitrator would settle the dispute.
"Tight ends are tight ends and they are going to be paid less than a wide receiver," Detillier explained. "We live in a world that's not fair and it may not be fair to Jimmy. But basically that's the position you play. That's how you're going to get paid."
The Saints last used the franchise tag two years ago. The tag was placed on Drew Brees, but the team and the QB eventually signed a longterm deal before the 2012 season started. Detillier expects Graham's contract dispute to linger through the offseason.
Here is a list of all of the Saints unrestricted freeagents:
TE Jimmy Graham
RT Zach Strief
C Brian de la Puente
S Malcolm Jenkins
OLB Parys Haralson
K Shayne Graham (already signed new contract)
WR Robert Meachem
OT Charles Brown
QB Luke McCown
LB Jonathan Vilma
LB Will Herring
LB Ramon Humber
LB Keyunta Dawson (already signed new contract)
DE Kenyon Coleman
S Jordan Pugh