The dispute over whether or not the New Orleans Saints will pay Jimmy Graham as a tight end or a wide receiver under the franchise tag has ramification that extend far beyond the two parties involved. It’s possible the result could create a divide in how tight ends are compensated between those that spend most of their time lined up outside and those that primary line up in a three-point stance on the line of scrimmage.
As one of the new wave of modern tight ends that are comfortable lining up outside and in the slot, Detroit Lions rookie Eric Ebron is taking interest in what happens with Graham and the Saints.
Really Interested To See What Happens To Jimmy Graham.
— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) June 18, 2014
While I’m sure there will be Lions fans out there who take Ebron’s tweet as a negative, like he’s already looking ahead at maximizing a superstar contract before playing his first NFL game, the Lions would be fortunate to find themselves in a similar position to the Saints with Graham.
Graham is obviously a great player and how to properly compensate a great player can be problematic. As far as problems go, that’s a pretty good one to have.
A lot could change between now and when Ebron, assuming he proves equal to the player Graham is now, and the Lions have to look at the next contract. It is possible changes to the franchise tag system avoid conflicts like the Saints and Graham are engaged in now. It’s also possible the Lions would look to extend Ebron, taking the franchise tag fight out of the picture entirely.
At the very least, what happens between Graham and the Saints will set a precedent for how these new tight ends are compensated in the future. If Graham gets his way, the price tags will be going up around the entire league.