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Arbitrator rules Jimmy Graham’s a tight end

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 29: Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints participates in warmups prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 29, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans won the game 42-17. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Stacy Revere

Jimmy Graham is officially a tight end.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, arbitrator Stephen Burbank’s ruling is out, and Graham has been deemed to be a tight end for the purpose of his franchise tag.

The difference of $5.3 million in tags ($7 million for tight ends, $12.3 million for wide receivers) creates the urgency for an immediate appeal.

The Saints still have until July 15 to reach a long-term deal with Graham, and this ruling gives them a bit of leverage, or at least the high ground. They can come in with something greater than every other tight end in the league as an olive branch, and still be saving money.