Detroit Lions tight end, Joseph Fauria feels like he deserves a pay raise. In the wake of the Jimmy Graham contract situation in New Orleans, Fauria is speaking up on behalf on tight ends league wide. Like Graham, Fauria believes when a tight end is treated as a wide receiver in an offense, they should the be payed like one too.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Jimmy Graham’s long-awaited system arbitration will commence Tuesday, launching a two-day process that will help decide whether the talented fifth-year pass-catcher should be franchise tagged as a tight end at approximately $7 million or as a wideout at roughly $12 million.
Along with minicamp starting, today is Jimmy Graham’s system arbitration, barring compromise. Will he be tagged as a WR ($12M) or TE ($7M). — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 17, 2014
While speaking on The SiriusXM Blitz Friday morning, Fauria stated that he understands the grievance of Jimmy Graham.
“I do think it’s a shame that the tight end position — with how it’s grown so much in the past few years — that we’re the second-to-last paid position after kickers.”
Graham was given the New Orleans Saints’ franchise tag in March. As a tight end, the tag amount to be counted against the Saints’ salary cap is $7 million. As a receiver, that amount is $12.3 million.
Graham lined up in the slot or was split out wide 67 percent of the time last season, basically spending a majority of the year playing wide receiver.
He also led the NFL in touchdown catches for tight ends with 16. That number also ranks higher than any wide receiver in the NFL in 2013, including Calvin Johnson, who ranked third among wideouts with 12.
“I think it’s a good case. The discrepancy between the receiver and tight end position and how much they get paid is not cool. So I’m in his corner.”
While it seems that both Graham and Fauria have made a solid point, the Lions may be the last organization to face accusation of devaluing the tight end position.
Their front office re-signed Brandon Pettirgrew to a four-year, $16 million deal (their second-biggest deal handed out this offseason). 10th overall pick, Eric Ebron recently signed him a four-year deal with a club option for a fifth year. Ebron’s money is guaranteed and included a $7.2 million signing bonus.
Fauria himself is signed to a three-year, $1.5 million deal with the Lions.
Pettigrew and Fauria accounted for 31 percent of the Lions’ receiving touchdowns last season. Fauria’s seven scores were second on the team behind Johnson.
Graham’s two-day hearing ended Wednesday, but a decision on exactly what position Graham will be designated as the Saints’ franchise player by NFL arbitrator Stephen Burbank is not expected until next week.