The Jimmy Graham Verdict’s Impact On Tight End Kyle Rudolph


The recent ruling on franchise tags for pass catching tight ends is one that the Minnesota Vikings have to be watching closely because of their situation with Kyle Rudolph.  If you haven’t been paying attention to what is going on with the situation between the New Orleans Saints and Jimmy Graham, let’s get you caught up to speed.

Instead of working out a more expensive long-term deal with the NFL’s leader in receiving touchdowns, the New Orleans Saints instead put the franchise tag on Jimmy Graham.  Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham’s agent argued that he should be considered a wide receiver in terms of the tag price because of how often he is asked to be a pass catcher instead of a blocker.  The difference between the two tags for a season is over $5 million for the season.  After the ruling was disputed by the agent, a ruling came down from an arbitrator that because of how he lines up in the offense that he is indeed a tight end and NOT a wide receiver.

Twitter bio for Cleveland Browns pass catcher Jordan Cameron

This is bad news for pass catching tight ends who are looking to get paid.  Other successful pass catching tight ends have already come out in support of Jimmy Graham.  Most notably, Jordan Cameron has changed his twitter profile to say that he is now a “pass catcher” instead of a tight end because of the implications of labeling himself in a position that could result in a smaller payday.

The Vikings have to be monitoring this situation very closely.  Kyle Rudolph is entering the final year of his rookie contract and has already gone on record as saying that he wants an extension to stay with the team.  However, if negotiations on a long-term deal stall and fizzle out, Rudolph could find himself in a position very similar to that of Graham.

Nov 3, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end coach Jimmie Johnson talks with tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Although Kyle Rudolph would have less bargaining leverage because his statistics over his three years with the Vikings don’t compare very well to Jimmy Graham’s, a very good year this season could push him into a higher pay bracket.  If they can’t lock him up before the season, a very awkward situation could happen.

The one aspect of this situation that seems to be getting overlooked is the happiness of the player.  While I’m sure Jimmy Graham loves playing for the Saints and Kyle Rudolph enjoys playing for the Vikings, but putting a tight end franchise tag on a player who feels like they deserve a better situation could be considered a slap in the face to a player who puts up great numbers and helps their team win.

Hopefully, the Vikings and Kyle Rudolph can work something out before a situation like Jimmy Graham’s with the Saints happens.