Jun 17, 2014 1:37 PM by Dave Fields
Jimmy Graham's grievance hearing about his franchise tag begins today.
Currently, the New Orleans Saints organization has designated the Pro Bowler as its franchise tight-end, allowing the team to secure Graham to preset contract amounts--if the arbitrator rules in the Saints favor--in 2014 and 2015 of $7.034 million and $8.44 million respectively.
Graham disputes the team's franchise designation as a tight end, asserting that, for purposes of his franchise tag, he should be affixed with a wide receiver designation. If the arbitrator rules in the receiver's favor, Graham's contract would be required to increase to $12.3 million.
Attorney Jimmy Sexton, Graham's agent, is in New Orleans during the course of the hearing, league analysts suggest, to negotiate with team General Manager Mickey Loomis. Graham's contingent has contended that two-thirds of Graham's snaps have been at a wideout or slot position, rather than beside the tackle on the line of scrimmage.
While the hearing is in its earliest phase, neither side can be completely confident of its result. Therefore, a contract negotiation seeking common ground between both sides is expected as the arbitration hearing unfolds.
Expectations, by some NFL analysts, are that Graham's new contract will exceed the current $9 million per year currently earned by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.