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Graham is a tight end — a real good one for that matter — but he’s utilized in different positions across the field so his actual position could be conceived as a bit puzzling. The difference: about $5 million when it comes to his salary for the 2014 season.
Don’t worry, Jimmy, you’ll earn your money. But for now, here are five reasons why he’s still a tight end:
1. What does it say on your player card?
In this case, how do you describe yourself in your Twitter profile: a tight end.
No matter where you line up on the field, your position doesn’t change. Darren Sproles has lined up in the slot before. Percy Harvin has received handoffs out of the backfield. But that’s a product of your skill-set being diverse and your coach taking advantage of it. Graham is a tight end, with wide receiver-like abilities.
Considered one of the NFL’s best tight ends in history, Gonzo lined up in either the slot or as a wide receiver more than 67 percent of the time last season. Do you think he’ll ask the Pro Football Hall of Fame to list him as a wide receiver when he’s inducted?
In contrast, Graham lined up in the slot or as a wideout 66.8 percent of the time, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That means the other one-third of the time he was an in-line tight end.
3. You’ll get a raise … next year
Graham was franchise tagged in 2014, so he’s in line for a new deal — and a hefty raise — in 2015. It could — and makes sense — that it’ll come from the New Orleans Saints, but if the team isn’t willing to dish out the dough some other team will.
If Graham accepts what is expected to be about a $6.5 million salary in 2014, he’s due for a raise next year regardless of whether he’s a tight end or wide receiver.
4. You’re killing fantasy footballers
If Graham wins his grievance and is proclaimed a wide receiver, does that mean he’ll be considered a wide receiver in fantasy football leagues this season?
If that’s the case, this completely alters the draft strategy for fans everywhere, who now have to reconsider their tight end because of the noticeable drop-off from Graham to the next-best player. And then where does Graham rank among Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green?
5. This won’t be the last TE vs. WR case
Graham was the first of a new breed of hybrid wide receiver-tight ends. This debate will now become the case for Jordan Cameron and Eric Ebron, two players who fit similar molds of Graham with the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions, respectfully.
The precedent should be set — sooner rather than later — to avoid further grievance hearings over the next couple of years.