New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was finally, officially, ruled a tight end on Wednesday by an arbitrator. The ruling brings to an end the dispute over what position Graham really played – tight end or wide receiver. And, it means Graham’s franchise tag is now in the $7 million range instead of $12 million. Even though Graham lined up a majority of snaps away from the line, it was ruled that he was still a tight end based upon a number of criteria.
There were several arguments made by the NFL for locking Graham in as a tight end. For starters, he was drafted as a tight end and meets with the tight end group with the Saints. Furthermore, he’s covered with linebackers and safeties most of the time as other tight ends. And the arbitrator found that the majority of Graham’s snaps were within four yards of the nearest offensive lineman, either on the line or in the slot.
One of the most interesting elements of the Graham case was his Twitter page, which listed himself as a tight end for the New Orleans Saints.
From Graham’s perspective, it’s tough to argue that you’re not a tight end when you say you’re a tight end in social media. And in fact, Ian Rapoport says the Pro Bowler’s Twitter page was a piece of evidence that worked against him.
The Graham ruling has led another Pro Bowl tight end to take a proactive step to make sure he isn’t caught out by the same thing. Jordan Cameron of the Cleveland Browns now lists himself as merely a “pass catcher.”
That’s a smart move from someone who will like to cash in on his own mega contract one day. Of course, as long as Twitter bios are now apparently binding documents that can be used as evidence in arbitration rulings concerning millions of dollars, Cameron should have done what Packers offensive lineman TJ Lang did and called himself a quarterback.