Jimmy Graham ruled a tight end, not a wide receiver. He’ll pay for that.

(Brian Blanco / AP)

Jimmy Graham is a tight end and it’s going to cost him a lot of money as well as carry repercussions for other players in modern, increasingly more hybrid NFL offenses.

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank denied the New Orleans Saints player’s request to be listed as a wide receiver, a position that carries a higher salary, even though he lined up in the slot or out wide on 67 percent of his snaps last season. Graham, who was not helped by listing himself as a tight end on his Twitter bio, and the NFL Players Association, which had filed a grievance on his behalf, have 10 days in which to appeal the decision.

The NFLPA, in a statement, said it “will review with Jimmy Graham the decision from Arbitrator Stephen Burbank which permits the player to be designated as a tight end for Franchise Tag purposes. We will advise Graham of his options and carefully determine next steps in this matter. We will also continue to assist Graham and his representation as necessary to help the player reach a fair long-term deal with the New Orleans Saints.”

For now, nothing will change with the one-year tender offer of $7.053 million the team made to Graham as a tight end; he’d have gotten $12.132 million as a receiver. Then the team and Graham will begin working on a long-term deal, one that is expected to make him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history by topping the $9-million deal the New England Patriots gave Rob Gronkowski. However, he isn’t likely to get anything in the $12-million range.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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