The NFL Players Association has filed a grievance on Jimmy Graham's behalf, arguing the franchise tag the New Orleans Saints placed on him in February should pay him like a wide receiver, not a tight end, a person close to Graham told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday.
The grievance was filed after months of talks about a long-term extension failed to yield a deal, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The difference between the franchise tender amounts is nearly $5.3 million, with the tight end tag worth $7.035 million — the amount of the tender Graham has not signed — and the receiver tag worth $12.312 million.
If the sides can't reach a settlement or otherwise resolve their differences, Graham's case would be heard by a third-party arbitrator, and the decision surely would affect leverage in negotiations on a long-term deal. No hearing date has been set, the person said.
Each side in this fight should understand the motivations of the other, so there should be no ill will when this is settled. That's the hope, anyway. Graham is highly likely to remain with the Saints despite the current air of uncertainty.