The following guest contribution was written by Jonathan Gordon, a senior at the University of Notre Dame with plans of attending law school. The founder of Sports Analytics Blog, Jonathan invites you to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Earlier this year, the New Orleans Saints placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Jimmy Graham. The Saints believe Graham should be compensated as a tight end ($7.07 million) because he is officially listed as a tight end. Graham and his agent, however, believe he should be compensated as a wide receiver ($12. 3 million) because of how often he played there. The two parties have proceeded to arbitration, where an arbitrator will make the final decision. For “franchise-tagging” purposes, is Graham a tight end? Or a wide receiver?
Interestingly, in his Twitter bio, Graham describes himself as a tight end.
The media has used this to suggest that Graham’s Twitter bio could cost him millions of dollars. No, it won’t. (Or at least, it shouldn’t.)
Section 2 of Article 10 of the NFL CBA states that the nonexclusive franchise tag pays players depending on “the position at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year.” There is no mention of team meetings, jersey numbers, listed position, or Twitter bios.
The arbitration decision will eventually come down to whether or not the arbitrator believes Graham played more at the tight end position or at the wide receiver position. Graham seems to have a strong case as he lined up “either in the slot or out wide 67% of the time”.
Salaries are designed to compensate players for performance. Despite what his Twitter bio suggests, Graham performed mostly as a wide receiver. An arbitrator will soon decide if he should be compensated as one.