Pro Football Talk on Thursday corrected a report that erroneously said Saints tight end Jimmy Graham had until April 22 to file a grievance arguing he should be paid $5 million more, or like a wide receiver, under the franchise tag New Orleans handed him in late February.
Graham actually has until 2017, Pro Football Talk is now reporting.
During the annual NFL owners meeting in March, the site published a report citing an anonymous source saying that Graham had 50 days to file a grievance through the NFL Players Association. April 22 was 50 days from when Graham was tagged.
Furthermore, the site reported that it was “likely” Graham and the Saints would reach a long-term deal before April 22.
But April 22 is actually irrelevant. If he went that route, Graham would not be filing a non-injury grievance but for a system arbitration, Pro Football Talk said.
Players have 50 days to file non-injury grievances. Players have three years to file for a system arbitration, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, per Pro Football Talk.
The site apparently began going over its reporting after Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis told reporters at LSU’s Pro Day on Wednesday that he didn’t view April 22 as any kind of meaningful deadline in negotiations with Graham.
The Saints tagged Graham as a tight end after he led the team with 1,215 receiving yards and the NFL with 16 touchdown catches in 2013, the last season on the rookie deal he accepted from New Orleans in 2010.
But Graham, whose tag is worth about $7 million, spent most of his time last year lining up out wide for the Saints. A franchise tag for a wide receiver is worth about $12 million, and it’s believed he could file a grievance through the players association to be classified as a wideout, given the massive boost in pay that could result in, depending on the decision of a third party.
Yet Graham would not even play under the tag if he and the Saints can agree on a long-term deal to replace the one he accepted from New Orleans as a rookie in 2010.
Loomis restated his desire for that long-term deal Wednesday. He said he hoped one was reached by the start of training camp but did not commit to a firm timetable.
“Lots of us would rather have things done sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t always happen like that,” Loomis said. “We want to have Jimmy Graham on our team when training camp begins, and I am sure he wants to be with us.
“So we’ll just keep plugging away at the process. He has a great agent (in Jimmy Sexton). All his people … know what they’re doing; so do we.”
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