An arbitrator decided on Wednesday that New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham will be considered a tight end instead of a receiver for franchise tag purposes. Now, many question how this decision affects other pass-catching tight ends, such as San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis.
Since franchised receivers make more than franchised tight ends, Graham thought his tendency to catch a lot of passes could help him get a $5.3 million pay raise and in turn perhaps a better contract in the future. That could open the door for someone like Davis who's looking to renegotiate a new deal.
The decision itself doesn't mean that much, but according to Niners Nation's David Fucillo, it could actually benefit some tight ends like Davis, who acknowledge that they aren't really receivers.
I would argue this ruling could potentially benefit Davis to some degree. Graham is expected to appeal the decision, but I would not be entirely surprised if the two sides worked out a deal that helped split the difference a little bit. That conceivably would mean a sizable chunk of change for Graham, and it would move up the overall average pay for tight ends.
And if Graham ends up getting a new deal, Davis could potentially benefit in his contract negotiations.
If I'm Vernon, I'm actually more rooting now that Graham gets a new contract. Vernon could use that contract in his own negotiations. I'm not saying the 49ers would buy that angle, but it's one more tool in his negotiation. If Graham had been ruled a wide receiver, if he worked out a new deal the 49ers could simply say, well, he's a wide receiver, so we don't need to factor in his new contract for our negotiations with you, Vernon.
After initially stating he wasn't planning to hold out, Davis noted in a Monday Morning Quarterback column that he wanted a new contract and now plans to hold out for one. Davis claimed he's playing better now than he was when he signed his last contract in 2010. If things work out how Davis thinks they will and the average price of a tight end actually increases, he could be in line for another big payday.
A lot of pieces have to fall correctly, but a loss for one tight end might end up sweetening the deal for some others, like Davis.