Report: Graham's bio part of case


One of the NFL's arguments for why Jimmy Graham shouldn't receive the franchise tender as a wide receiver is that he lists himself as a tight end on his Twitter bio, according to a report.

The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted the news Tuesday.

Graham's grievance hearing began Tuesday and is expected to conclude Wednesday. At stake is whether the New Orleans Saints will be required to offer Graham a one-year franchise-tag salary of $7.035 million or $12.3 million.

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank will hear arguments from the NFL Players Association and the NFL Management Council to determine whether Graham should be officially labeled as a tight end or a wide receiver for franchise-tag purposes. It's unclear how long it will take Burbank to issue a ruling, although one week is a fair guess based on past arbitration hearings.

Even more critical is how the ruling will affect Graham and the Saints' negotiations over a long-term contract. The two sides have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement, or else Graham can play under only a one-year deal this season.

Graham's argument is that he should be considered a receiver because he lined up either in the slot or out wide 67 percent of the time last season. And the collective bargaining agreement says that the franchise-tag designation is based on the position "at which the Franchise player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year."

However, what remains ambiguous is what officially constitutes lining up as a tight end, which has always been a hybrid between receiver and blocker -- especially in the modern passing game.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said earlier this offseason, "Isn't that what we drafted him as? Isn't that what he made the Pro Bowl as? That's what we see him as, a tight end. ... That's what makes him valuable."

And a league source last week worded the NFL's stance even more strenuously, calling the union's position a "naked cash grab" and pointing out that coaches have split the tight end wide "since the days of Mike Ditka." Saints reporter Mike Triplett contributed to this report.