(9) took to Twitter in support of the NFLPA's stance against a workers compensation bill in Louisiana affecting professional athletes. (Chris Keane/SI)
The New Orleans Saints are gearing up for a hearing next month concerning the franchise tender placed on tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham is working to have his tender moved to the salary figure for wide receivers, which would pay him $5 million more than the current tender for tight ends. However, that payment dispute may not be the Saints' biggest offseason concern.
According to USA Today, the NFL Players Association is warning agents around the league about their players signing with the Saints because of a workers compensation battle that is currently playing out in Louisiana.
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At issue is a bill, HB1069, by Rep. Chris Broadwater that would calculate workers comp benefits for injured athletes based on earnings at the time of the injury, rather than future earnings. It passed the Louisiana House this week and could come up in Senate committee next week, leading to Saints quarterback Drew Brees and others on the union side ramping up efforts to squash it.
In an email to agents Friday morning, obtained by USA TODAY Sports, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith wrote that the bill would "substantially reduce workers' compensation benefits for players injured at any time other than during the 17 weeks of the regular season. In other words the bill, if passed, seeks to provide a lower benefit for a player injured in OTA's, mini-camps, training camp or even post-season."
Saints' outside counsel Christopher Kane responded to the letter later on Friday, citing multiple other states with similar compensation plans in place and drawing upon multiple recent court rulings that uphold the principles behind the bill. Kane doesn't believe that the bill would affect players under the current collective bargaining agreement, but the NFLPA seems to believe otherwise.
On Tuesday, Saints quarterback Drew Brees took to Twitter to express his approval of the union's stance.
The dispute comes at a sensitive time for the NFL amid constant debate over the prevention and treatment of injuries to its players past and present.