NEW ORLEANS -- An arbitrator has sided with the New Orleans Saints in ruling that Jimmy Graham can only be considered a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag designation.
The ruling Wednesday by Stephen Burbank is a setback for Graham, agent Jimmy Sexton and the NFL Players Association, who'd filed a grievance arguing that Graham was used as a wide receiver often enough to qualify for the more lucrative receiver tag. Graham's case is being closely watched around the league because it could set a precedent for negotiations involving players who fill diverse roles in their teams offensive or defensive schemes..
NFL franchise tags, which allow teams to keep one prized free agent, was set this year at $7 million for tight ends and $12.3 million for receivers.
The NFLPA says it is reviewing the ruling and will advise Graham.
Graham has skipped Saints offseason practices while holding out for a new contract. A favorable ruling would have further enhanced negotiating leverage for Graham, who led the Saints with 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013.