With a unique blend of athleticism and soft hands, Jimmy Graham
is the prototype for the versatile tight ends teams are searching for across the league. (Greg Nelson/SI)
The New Orleans Saints used its franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham in order to lock him in on a one-year deal at a salary commensurate with his position, but Graham has made it known he believes he is deserving of more than the one-year tender and is looking to be paid like the premier receiving threat he is.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, one of the players who stands to benefit from Graham's upcoming grievance hearing, believes Graham should be paid the type of money befitting one of the best wide receivers in the game, which would slot him well above the average NFL tight end.
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“He believes that he deserves more, and I believe that he deserves more,” Davis said Thursday on SportsCenter. “He’s just a wonderful presence. He’s a great player. He has a lot of potential to go above and beyond and just go further. He is one of those guys that is a part of that TE position that are changing the game — Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, [Rob] Gronkowski.
“Those guys are some fantastic players. If it was me, if I was the owner of the team, I would give the kid everything he wants because he’s that.”
If Graham receives a big pay day, the market value of versatile tight ends increases, allowing Davis to benefit as well when he signs his next contract.
“If you’re a guy who’s catching a lot of passes and you possess some of the traits that wide receivers have, then yes, I agree,” Davis said. “I think that he should get paid like a wide receiver.”
We will see if the league agrees after they hear Graham's grievance from the NFLPA, which could turn into a referendum on the way traditional NFL offensive positions are valued going forward.