As Florio notes, Graham’s camp could argue that he should be considered a receiver based on the number of times he lined up in either the slot or out wide. The franchise tag for receivers last year $10.54 million while the figure for tight ends came in at $6.07 million or a difference of $4.5 million roughly.
To make matters worse for New Orleans, they are expected to be over the by close to $17 million next season, which means they will need to shed a lot of salary just to get down to the projected cap limit. Now, the Saints will have some easy ways to free up cap space such as releasing DE Will Smith, which would free up close to $11.5 million. Still, more moves would need to be made in order to ensure that they could cover a franchise tag that could come close to $10 million depending on whether or not Graham elects to challenge the tight end tag.
I’m sure the Saints would prefer to get a long-term deal hammered out rather than apply the franchise tag, but sometimes negotiations require more time, which is why we see teams tag a player and then work out a long-term deal in the coming months.
We have Graham listed as the No. 1 player in our Top 50 Free Agents list.