The New Orleans Saints will use their franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham before Monday's deadline, according to NFL insider Adam Schefter. ESPN's Chris Mortensen says that designation will be a non-exclusive tag.
That second detail means the Saints are entitled to two first-round picks if they choose not to match another team's contract offer sheet.
The battle now will be whether Graham is held to the standards of a tight end, as the Saints would like, or a wide receiver, as Graham would. The franchise-tag number for a tight end is $7.04 million for one year, while a wide receiver is going to be entitled to $12.3 million, according to ESPN.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is adamant Graham should be held to the tight end figure, as the Shreveport Times' Bradley Handwerger Gannettt reported in January.
"Isn't that what we drafted him as? Isn't that what he made the Pro Bowl as? That's what we see him as, a tight end."
Graham's agent would have to prove he played more at wide receiver than tight end last year. That is a tricky argument because who is to say where Graham lines up determines whether he is a tight end or a wide receiver? That's usually left up to the team.
A third-party arbitrator might be need to settle this dispute, but do the Saints really want an unhappy Graham playing for less than he feels he is worth? Expect a long-term deal to be worked out.