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Saints' Graham's grievance date set

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: May 12 2014 12:48:11 PM CDT
Updated On: May 12 2014 03:17:11 PM CDT
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, January 2012 NFL playoffs

Jeff Haynes/Reuters

New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham's grievance hearing over his franchise-tag designation has been scheduled for June 17-18, ESPN.com reported Monday.

It is not clear whether a third-party arbitrator has been selected.

On behalf of Graham, the NFL players association had filed a grievance to challenge his position classification, a designation that could change Graham's franchise player salary by nearly $5.3 million.

As a tight end with a franchise tag, Graham would receive a one-year contract worth $7.053 million. If Graham were classified as a wide receiver, he would get a one-year deal worth $12.132 million.

Graham plays tight end but wants to be designated as a wide receiver because he lined up off the line of scrimmage -- meaning split wide or lined up as a slot receiver -- 67 percent of the snaps in 2013.

More importantly, the arbitrator's decision would give one side a significant amount of leverage in long-term contract negotiations.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis declined to answer specific questions about the debate, but did say the team's side of the argument will be handled by the management council.

"Obviously we get consulted and talked with," Loomis said. "But that's the management council's duty."

The players' association will present Graham's case. The sides will agree on the selection of the arbitrator.

Graham led the Saints in receptions (86), yards (1,215) and touchdowns (16) last season.

New Orleans has been dealing with salary cap issues this offseason and the adjustment in the one-year payment to Graham would require additional cap-related moves.

In 2008, Terrell Suggs settled a similar grievance with the Baltimore Ravens when a Special Master added a position designation to franchise designations of linebacker-defensive end. But Suggs realized only a slight bump from $8.065 million to $8.5 million.

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