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Saints News, 7/2/14: Sean Payton May Have A Locker-Room Issue To Address?

Now that Stephen Burbank has finally ruled that Jimmy Graham's franchise tag status is a tight end, some sports media personalities seem to really be reaching for new article ideas on this subject.

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Mike Florio at suggests that Payton may have to answer to his players after serving as a witness for the Saints/NFL in the Graham grievance hearing over whether he should be classified as a TE or WR for franchise tag purposes. "Some will view his testimony as taking $5.3 million out of Graham’s pockets — even if that’s not what Payton wanted to do" writes Florio. "He’ll need to make sure the players understand why he did what he did, without painting Graham as greedy or inappropriate."

Anyone who has closely followed the Saints under Sean Payton might disagree with Florio on this one. The Saints have had one of the NFL's most cohesive and team-oriented locker-rooms ever since Payton became head coach in 2006. There's no reason to think this Graham grievance will jeopardize that in any way. Of course Payton would provide testimony in favor of the team that employs him. Especially a cap-strapped team that simply could not afford to pay one of their top players another $5 million this year and then hope to sign additional quality free agents that could help them compete.

Jimmy Graham's attitude all last season never hinted that he may hold this against the team. He refused to answer media questions about it during the season so it wouldn't become a team distraction. Jimmy is a classy guy and has no reason to be upset about this ruling. It makes sense for him and his agent to give it a shot at least in an attempt to reel in the most money possible, but did they really think today's ruling might go their way? Truth be told, I have to believe the vast majority of Saints players would honestly say Graham is a tight end if the question was asked of them. There's no issue for Payton to deal with here. It will be business as usual for the team once training camp starts. Nice try, Florio.

Now onto today's roundup:



Saints News

Complete ruling from Stephen Burbank on New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham being deemed a 'tight end' |
As always when interpreting the CBA, my duty is to seek the meaning intended by the contracting parties, starting with the language used, and ending there if that language unambiguously provides an answer to the question of interpretation at hand.

Sean Payton may have a locker-room issue to address | ProFootballTalk
Regardless of whether Payton gets called out for serving as a witness in determining how Graham is used (really, it would have been odd not to hear from Graham’s head coach on the issue), Payton will be facing at a minimum some awkwardness when it’s time to interact again with the team.  Some will view his testimony as taking $5.3 million out of Graham’s pockets — even if that’s not what Payton wanted to do.  He’ll need to make sure the players understand why he did what he did, without painting Graham as greedy or inappropriate.

Four yards save Saints more than $5 million | ProFootballTalk
Arbitrator Stephen Burbank has issued his decision regarding the Jimmy Graham grievance.  Ultimately, four yards of turf saved $5.3 million for the Saints.

Graham ruling provides blueprint for other teams with pass-catching tight ends | ProFootballTalk
With arbitrator Stephen Burbank concluding that Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is a tight end for franchise-tag purposes, the 14-page, single-spaced ruling gives other teams with pass-catching tight ends a clear blueprint for avoiding a similar problem.

Arbitrator Rules Jimmy Graham A Tight End, Costing Him $5.3 Million
Unable to negotiate a deal, the Saints slapped Jimmy Graham with a franchise tag as a tight end. Graham disagreed, declaring himself a receiver, in order that he be paid like one. The dispute went to arbitration, and today arbitrator Stephen Burbank came down on the Saints' side.

NFLPA will "carefully determine" next steps in Graham case | ProFootballTalk
Under the normal procedure spelled out in the labor deal, however, Graham’s appeal wouldn’t be resolved by July 15, the deadline for doing a long-term contract with the Saints. So if he hopes to push the pendulum decisively in his direction before the last day for using that as leverage on a long-term contract, he needs to request an expedited appeal, with a ruling coming in the next 13 days at the latest.

Jimmy Graham ruled as a Tight End | The Saints Nation

New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham Ruled as Tight End
A final decision has been made on the Jimmy Graham hearing, so what's next for the New Orleans Saints tight end?

Arbitrator rules Saints' Graham is a tight end

NFL arbitrator rules that Jimmy Graham of New Orleans Saints is a tight end - ESPN
In a groundbreaking decision, the NFL has confirmed that arbitrator Stephen Burbank denied Jimmy Graham's request to officially be declared a wide receiver under the NFL's franchise-tag rules.

New Orleans Saints rankings: No. 13 RB Pierre Thomas - ESPN
I’m ranking the top 20 New Orleans Saints players leading up to training camp. It’s based on their current value – meaning both past

Saints' road woes are no laughing matter - New Orleans Saints Blog - ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter Mike Triplett says that despite some pre-playoff levity last season, Sean Payton and the Saints are serio

Drew Brees in four-way tie as top QB - ESPN
ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando put together one of the most comprehensive rankings of NFL quarterbacks that you’ll ever find, polling 26 league ins

New Orleans Saints Fantasy Radar: Travaris Cadet
The New Orleans Saints are loaded with fantasy football potential. Today, we highlight running back Travaris Cadet.


NFL News

Bills confirm Kiko Alonso has torn ACL, likely out for season | ProFootballTalk
The fears of the Bills have been confirmed: Kiko Alonso has a torn ACL. Alonso, the linebacker who burst onto the scene as a rookie last season and was expected to be a huge part of the defense this year and for years to come, is expected to miss the entire season.

Joey Porter may be a future NFL head coach | ProFootballTalk
When Joey Porter was an NFL linebacker, he had a reputation as a hothead and a loudmouth. But now that Porter is NFL assistant coach in Pittsburgh, he may be something else: A head coach in waiting.

Cam Newton working out with some non-Panthers | ProFootballTalk
At this stage in the offseason, there's little more that can be done to help the Panthers' wide receiver corps. But you can't blame quarterback Cam Newton for doing a little window shopping.