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Report: Date set for grievance hearing of Saints TE Jimmy Graham

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

Jimmy Graham isn't a slam dunk to win his grievance. (USATSI)
Jimmy Graham isn't a slam dunk to win his grievance. (USATSI)

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Is Jimmy Graham a tight end or a wide receiver? That's a multi-million dollar question we should have an answer to by the end of next month. Graham's franchise-tag grievance hearing has been scheduled for June 17-18, according to ESPN.com.

Back in March, Graham was tagged as a tight end, but his camp believes he should have been tagged as a wide receiver. Since that didn't happen, Graham ended up filing a grievance with the NFLPA.

Basically, the matter comes down to money: a tight end hit with the franchise tag will make $7.035 million in 2014, while a receiver will earn $12.312 million. That's a $5.277 million difference, and the arbitrator will have to decide which salary Graham is entitled to.

The arbitrator's decision will also likely affect any long-term contract negotiations between Graham and the Saints.

The NFLPA will argue Graham's case and the main point will undoubtedly be that Graham lined up in the slot or as a wideout on 67 percent of the snaps he played in last season. That might sound like a lot, but it didn't lead the league. According to ESPN.com, there were at least five NFL tight ends who topped 67 percent with Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta leading the way at 74 percent.

Although the hearing date has been scheduled, it can be avoided. If Graham reaches a salary compromise with the Saints or if the two sides hammer out a long-term contract before June 17, then there will be no arbitration.

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