by Aaron Wilson
July 02, 02014
New Orleans Saints star Jimmy Graham is officially a tight end as far as arbitrator Stephen Burbank is concerned.
Burbank ruled in favor of the Saints following a grievance hearing, meaning that Graham is set for a $7 million franchise tag designated for tight ends rather than a $12.3 million wide receiver tag.
The tight end franchise tag was assigned by the NFL Management Council.
Graham's representatives and the NFL Players Association argued on his behalf against witnesses that included Saints coach Sean Payton and former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian.
"The NFLPA will review with Jimmy Graham the decision from Arbitrator Stephen Burbank which permits the player to be designated as a tight end for Franchise Tag purposes," the NFLPA said in a statement. "We will advise Graham of his options and carefully determine next steps in this matter. We will also continue to assist Graham and his representation as necessary to help the player reach a fair long-term deal with the New Orleans Saints."
The Saints have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term contract with Graham. Otherwise, he'll play this season under a one-year franchise tender.
Graham is expected to eventually receive a lucrative contract extension.
Graham has caught 301 passes for 3,863 yards and 41 touchdowns and been named to two Pro Bowls in four NFL seasons.
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun