Source: Saints, Jimmy Graham 'closing in' on long-term deal
Jul 14, 2014 at 5:38p ET
Graham, who appealed the league’s arbitration decision of ruling him a tight end for franchise tag purposes, filed the request hours before a Monday night deadline, FOX Sports has learned. According to the collective-bargaining agreement, a three-member panel will oversee the case.
The two sides have until 4 p.m. ET Tuesday to reach a long-term deal or Graham must sign his tender.
The multiyear deal is expected to eclipse the $9 million per season New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski earns.
If a long-term agreement can’t be made, Graham will play the 2014 season for $7,053,000. If Graham were ruled a wide receiver, his franchise tag salary would earn him $12.3 million.
After Graham filed a grievance that said he should be designated a wide receiver because he spent a majority of the snaps in the slot rather than on the line of scrimmage, arbitrator Stephen Burbank made the ruling Graham should be paid like a tight end.
Graham has been one of the most consistent pass-catching threats since he entered the league in 2010. Since then, he has 301 receptions for 3,863 yards and an eye-popping 41 touchdowns.