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Nov 10, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) on the sidelines against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Graham Grievance Hearing: A Quick Look at the Numbers

Stephen Burbank was scheduled to hear arguments on Tuesday from the NFL Management Council and NFL Players Association to determine if New Orleans Saints‘ Pro Bowler Jimmy Graham should be officially classified as a tight end or wide receiver.  A long-term deal must be agreed upon before July 15, otherwise Graham can play under a one-year deal this season and then go on to test the free agent market in 2015.

If Graham wins the hearing, he will be labeled as a wide receiver and the Saints will be required to pay him $12.3 million under the one-year franchise tag instead of a rough sum of $7 million.  The best scenario for both sides would be to strike a long-term deal by meeting somewhere in the middle around $10.5 million per year.

Both sides of the hearing do have a legitimate argument, but New Orleans Saints GM Mickey Loomis believes the ruling will pan out in favor of the Saints.  Graham spent a majority of his snaps lined up as a wideout, but was also used on the line as an eligible receiver and blocker.  Let’s take a quick look at the numbers that will be the centerpiece of this debate.

TE Snaps- 291, WR Snaps- 586

TE Snap PCT- 33%, WR Snap PCT- 67%

TE Rec- 18, WR Rec- 68

TE Yards- 377, WR Yards- 838

TE TDs- 4, WR TDs- 12

Numbers don’t lie, but you can’t expect a wide receiver to line up next to an offensive tackle 33 percent of the year.  If he did, would you pay him less?  No, because it wouldn’t happen anyway.  Receivers are not capable of playing on the inside like that, and that is why Mickey Loomis has no worries.  “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.  That’s what makes him valuable.”

I couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Loomis.  Tony Gonzales was used the same way with the Atlanta Falcons – no problem there.  There is no telling how long it will be before a final decision is made, but based on past arbitration hearings, a week or so looks to be a realistic time frame.

This debacle has been nothing but an aggravating distraction to coaches, teammates and even the fans.  The Black and Gold had an outstanding offseason and look to be Super Bowl contenders this year, but this Jimmy Graham problem needs to be solved.

His absence at training camp is likely, which may actually be better for New Orleans right now.  At this point, an off-field distraction is better than an on-field one.  Regardless, he is a vital part of that high-powered offense and needs to remain a Saint for the long haul.


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  • David Dunn

    Trade him sucked in playoff

  • Andrew Schuster

    @disqus_J7uYrxu9ME:disqus He didn’t suck. He just wasn’t a factor. It’s hard for anybody to be productive when you’re double and triple covered all game. The Eagles and Seahawks did their job and took Drew Brees’ top target out of the matchup. Should the Broncos trade Peyton Manning because he sucked in the Super Bowl?

    • bearisity

      Ya trade Manning. It was all his fault.

  • Rod

    incorrect about his position numbers…the author is counting times he flexed as playing slot…not the same…also how many times did he line up as X or Z (not over 60% I can tell ya that) and then if we look at his performance…most of his catches and touchdowns came out of the flex (faux slot) or the traditional assignment (3 point stance next to tackle) where he faced linebackers and safeties in space…but when he had to take on a traditional corner…it wasn’t so elite…he can’t say pay me like an elite receiver when he doesn’t fully play and perform like an elite wide receiver always facing every defenses’ best corner and still producing…like Megatron or the guys in Chicago…and this is from a saints fan…

    • Andrew Schuster

      I completely agree. He did line up 67% of the time as a receiver though — I was combining outside, slot, etc. I am on the Saints’ side here @disqus_Rh9CQZEs9H:disqus