New Orleans Saints confirm multiyear deal with Jimmy Graham
NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Saints on Tuesday confirmed a multiyear contract with Jimmy Graham, ending a protracted holdout for the star tight end.
Graham skipped all of the Saints’ voluntary and mandatory practices and workouts – and challenged the NFL’s franchise tag process through arbitration.
The odds of Graham leaving the Saints were slim since the club in late February placed its franchise tag on the player.
The NFL Players Association filed a grievance, contending Graham was used as a wide receiver often enough to qualify for the more lucrative receiver tag, worth about $5 million a year more than the $7 million tag for a tight end.
A hearing was held in June and earlier this month. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank sided with the NFL, ruling Graham was capable of continuing to perform specific tight end duties while lined up in the slot or within 4 yards of an offensive tackle.
Once the ruling was in place, Graham had a choice of appealing or trying to reach a long-term contract by a July 15 deadline – after which he would have to play next season for his franchise tag number. A favorable ruling from Burbank would have further enhanced negotiating leverage for Graham, who last season led the Saints with 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns.
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