The NFL scheduled Jimmy Graham’s grievance hearing for next Tuesday as the league and the NFL Players Association argue over his position designation for the franchise tag, a designation that means the difference between being paid $12.3 million dollars and $7.035 million dollars for the 2014 season.
How does the argument shape up in the debate over grit versus glitter? Let’s take a quick look.
Jimmy Graham and the NFLPA argue Graham lined up as a wide out or in the slot 67% percent of the time last season and therefore should be considered a receiver for the franchise tag. This argument isn’t without merit, Graham led the Saints with 86 catches, 16 touchdowns and 1,215 yards last season. In four years with the Saints, Graham has amassed nearly 4,000 yards receiving, a number only bogged down by a 356 yard rookie season.
The league however says that Graham lined up as a tight end 60% of 2013 season and that the NFLPA is overlooking how the tight end is often lined up to learn more about opponents defensive schemes. According to a league source, The Shield believes, “Since the days of Mike Ditka, coaches have split the tight end wide to gain information about the defensive set and gain a matchup advantage. According to the union’s position, last year’s All-Pro tight end was not a tight end and Mike Ditka was a wide receiver.”
It’s hard to argue the player who lead the league in receiving touchdowns last season shouldn’t at least get some consideration to be considered a receiver, nor should a hybrid player be punished by the franchise tag which pulls from average of the top five players at his position. Graham is learning the hard way that with The Shield, not all that glitters is gold.