The NFLPA said Wednesday that they would do whatever it takes to assist New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, including help him fight for an arbitration ruling that would make him a wide receiver. Graham lost his arbitration battle with the Siants on Wednesday, getting him labeled as a tight end for franchise tag purposes. The NFLPA made it stance on the issue clear in a statement released after Wednesday's decision:
The NFLPA 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.
Graham has 10 days to appeal the decision. He and the Saints have 13 days until the collective bargaining agreement's July 15 deadline to finalize long-term contracts with players who received the franchise tag this year. Graham could pursue both an appeal and a long-term deal with the Saints.
The decision has ramifications outside of Graham's situation. Had Graham won, other tight ends could have possibly been in line to change their classifications to wide receiver. Now that he lost, that's a win for the teams, because it helps them keep more cap space. But as teams utilize tight ends as receivers more and more, grievances like this one could become more frequent.