In a groundbreaking decision, the NFL has confirmed that arbitrator Stephen Burbank denied Jimmy Graham's request to officially be declared a wide receiver under the NFL's franchise-tag rules.
Although Graham lined up either in the slot or out wide on 67 percent of his snaps last year, Burbank agreed with the New Orleans Saints and the NFL Management Council, who argued that the tight end position has always involved a combination of splitting out wide to run pass routes and staying in to block -- especially in today's modern passing offenses.
Graham and the NFL Players Association can appeal the decision within 10 days to a three-member appeals panel.
The story goes on to say the Saints will not have to increase their one-year tender offer of $7.053 million to Graham. The receiver tender would have cost them $12.132 million. More important, with the franchise grievance nearing a conclusion, the two sides can now focus on setting their own value for Graham in long-term contract talks. The deadline for that is July 15. The only issue now could be if Graham holds hard feelings over this. The Saints can control him with the franchise tag the next two seasons. It's possible Graham doesn't sign the tenders and holds out of camp.