Much like their contemporaries around the National Football League, the New Orleans Saints are patiently waiting for the outcome of Jimmy Graham's grievance hearing, which took place last week. The Saints, as a team, were busy on the field, as they wrapped up their final round of organized team activities last week, bringing an end to their offseason program in earnest.
With training camp set to open on July 24, the announcement on how Graham's franchise tag will be designated remains the one issue at play as the team settles into the summer. Meanwhile, here are a couple of updates regarding the Saints:
The Jimmy Graham Effect
With all eyes on the impending verdict regarding the Saints' tight end's franchise tag designation, some of Graham's peers around the league have taken notice and voiced their respective opinions on the matter.
Graham, of course, believes that he should be tagged as a receiver on the basis of his 2013 workload which saw him line up 67% of his snaps either out wide or in the slot. The Saints, on the other hand, tagged him as a tight end, the position which they drafted him to play. Graham even lists himself as a tight end on his personal twitter account.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon davis, who himself is staring down the battle of a potentially protracted contractual issue, believes Graham should be paid like a receiver.
“If you’re a guy who’s catching a lot of passes and you possess some of the traits that wide receivers have, then yes, I agree,” Davis told ESPN earlier this month. “I think that he should get paid like a wide receiver.” All eyes on me: Jimmy Graham's case should be decided by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who emerged as one of the league's most dangerous young weapons last season, also stands frimly in Graham's corner. Thomas will enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2014, and could well be a candidate for Denver's franchise tag next offseason.
"I've kind of been keeping an eye on that situation, obviously, because it could probably come back to affect a lot of us tight ends," Thomas said.
A former Bronco tight end also provided his own opinion on the matter. Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, who caught 815 balls for over 10,000 yards and 62 touchdowns in his 14-year career, believes that Graham should be the league's highest-paid tight end. Sharpe, however, believes that in spite of all the hoopla surrounding the issue, Graham is, after all, a tight end.
"I understand why they do it, but at the end of the day you are a tight end," he said. "Just because the running back, he lines up out wide and he catches a lot of passes, well, now what? Is he a wide receiver? No, he's a running back."
Detroit Lions' rookie first-rounder Eric Ebron, who projects as a difference maker at the position, believes that the league should implement a new payscale for the position as it pertains to "hybrids" like Graham. Ebron voiced his opinion earlier this week.
"I believe we should either start being called a hybrid or joker," said Ebron. "I think the tight end name is traditional, but it's overplayed into what people assume a tight end is."
Independent third-party arbitrator Stephen Burbank is expected to announce a decision sometime by the end of this week.
Cooks Draws More Plaudits
After he turned heads at last week's final round of OTAs, rookie receiver Brandin Cooks continues to impress his new teammates.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis, who knows all too well how difficult it can be to match up with a speedy playmaker like Cooks, bestowed the nickname "Lightning" upon his new teammate. The Saints traded up to grab Brandin Cooks in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
"I called him 'Lightning,'" Lewis said last week, following the end of OTAs. "A DB might be in his back pocket and the next thing you know he's 50, 60 yards down the field."
Meanwhile, Cooks plans to travel out west to San Diego in an attempt to build a rapport with Quarterback Drew Brees and further enhance his knowledge of the team's offense ahead of training camp next month.
One Davis Out, One Davis In
The Saints waived/injured Cornerback A.J. Davis earlier this week, and signed Linebacker Todd Davis to take his roster spot.
A.J. Davis signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2012, going on to appear in a single game as a special teamer that year. He also spent time on the team's practice squad that season, before landing on injured reserve in 2013. The Saints waived the Jacksonville State alum on Monday, and he reverted to the club's reserve/injured list by the end of the day Tuesday.
Todd Davis went undrafted out of Sacramento State in 2013, where he appeared in 45 games, recording 351 career tackles, 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, three interceptions and six PBUs along the way.
Check back later this week for an update on the Jimmy Graham situation.