Settling an issue that has been a brewing controversy through the first month of the off-season, the NFL officially designated Saints tight end Jimmy Graham as a basketball player for the purposes of the franchise tag.
Graham had hoped to be designated as a wide receiver, the position where he lined up most often on the field, because it would make roughly $5 million more for than upcoming season than if he were designated as a tight end. Were Graham listed as a tight end, the Saints player and the NFLPA planned to appeal the ruling.
In making the decision, the league ignored Graham’s assignment on the team roster and where he was most often used on the field. Instead, the NFL deferred to the ways that football announcers referred to Graham, which was overwhelmingly as a basketball player, in part based on the fact that he was on the University of Miami basketball team.
For example, in one NFL Network broadcast of a Saints game in 2013, Brad Nessler says to describe a Graham reception, “Look at the way Graham skies for the ball like a power forward.”
Graham’s agent and the NFLPA have already indicated that they do not plan to appeal this surprise ruling. As the average salary of the top five NBA power forwards is roughly $7 million higher than that of NFL wide receivers, Graham stands to make substantially more money. However, as part of the designation, the NFL is demanding that Graham wear more ridiculous attire during postgame pressers and possibly date a Kardashian.
“Not what I expected, but I’m pretty cool with this,” Graham said, while attempting unsuccessfully to dribble a football for the 12,000th time.