One of the ongoing controversies with the NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement concerns how certain players are designated in regards to franchse tags. Some players play multiple positions and fulfill a variety of roles for their teams. This can mean that labelling them at one position or another isn’t necessarily a straight forward exercise.
It also means that the player could stand to lose millions depending on what position he’s designated as. That’s precisely what happened to New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason, who was hit with the franchise tag.
My understanding of the way the franchise tag works is that the player is paid the average of the top five salaries at his position. Since wide receivers on average make a whole lot more than tight ends, Graham wanted to be called a wide receiver. He brought the lawyers in and threatened to hold out of training camp.
In the end Graham came to an agreement with the Saints and signed a new deal worth $10 million annually. The main point of contention was that because Graham is primarily used as a receiver as opposed to a blocker he felt that he should earn wide receiver money.
I’m not a big fan of Mr. Graham but he does have a point and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future the next time a team uses a franchise tag on a tight end. By the looks of it, Detroit Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron agrees with Jimmy.
Yesterday Ebron changed his Twitter profile from “tight end” to “pass catcher for the Detroit Lions.”
Of course calling yourself a pass catcher or a receiver doesn’t necessarily make it so legally. However, it’s clear that Ebron wants to be treated as a receiver and not a traditional tight end. If the Lions have an eye on tagging him in the future it will be something to consider.
What do you think? Should catching tight ends make as much as wide receivers or not?