Suddenly Tight End Is A Dirty Term (And Not Just In Jail)

  • David Young

Jimmy Graham TE

Remember the big, blocking Tight Ends of yesteryear? Thanks to the course of evolution in the NFL (what, you thought the sport was a product of intelligent design?) they’re becoming extinct. Now we have the hybrid TE/WR combo, also know as the Joker TE, who lines up like a TE, but is really another receiver. Last season six TEs were among the Top 30 in receptions.

The practical effect is that the NFL does not value TEs like it does WRs, so when it comes to the franchise designation, a TE finds himself in a lower pay range. Enter Saints player Jimmy Graham.

Graham went to arbitration to fight this designation as a TE and lost. Why? the arbitrator said he was drafted as a TE. He lined up like a TE. He went to TE meetings (those sound fun). And – and this one is great – because he described himself as a TE on his Twitter account. Hell, if we were all held accountable for what our Twitter handles were, most of us would make less money. Conversely, I may change mine to “CEO of Google” and see if the paychecks start appearing in my bank account.

Sure, this means he’ll only be rich instead of even more rich, but it also likely means the question of hybrid players will be on the table between the league and the union, but hopefully, will not rise to the level of a strike or lockout issue. But until the loophole is closed, look for other Tight Ends, er, Pass Catchers, to follow Jordan Cameron’s lead:

Pass Catcher

David Young has been a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated and is now on Follow him on Twitter @flyingturkeys.