Tight end Jimmy Graham skipped all of the Saints' voluntary and mandatory practices and workouts — and challenged the NFL's franchise tag process through arbitration. (Jeff Gross / Getty Images)
New Orleans — The New Orleans Saints on Tuesday confirmed a multiyear contract with Jimmy Graham, ending a protracted holdout for the star tight end.
Graham skipped all of the Saints’ voluntary and mandatory practices and workouts — and challenged the NFL’s franchise tag process through arbitration.
The odds of Graham leaving the Saints were slim since the club in late February placed its franchise tag on the player.
The NFL Players Association filed a grievance, contending Graham was used as a wide receiver often enough to qualify for the more lucrative receiver tag, worth about $5 million a year more than the $7 million tag for a tight end.
A hearing was held in June and earlier this month. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank sided with the NFL, ruling Graham was capable of continuing to perform specific tight end duties while lined up in the slot or within 4 yards of an offensive tackle.
Once the ruling was in place, Graham had a choice of appealing or trying to reach a long-term contract by a July 15 deadline — after which he would have to play next season for his franchise tag number. A favorable ruling from Burbank would have further enhanced negotiating leverage for Graham, who last season led the Saints with 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Graham, a former college basketball player who played one year of football at Miami, was the Saints’ third-round draft choice in 2010. In his second season, Graham caught 99 passes for 1,310 yards. That total stood briefly as a yards receiving record for tight ends. That same day the mark was broken on the final day of that season by New England’s Rob Gronkowski, who finished with 1,327.
Graham has led the Saints in catches the past three seasons and led them in yards receiving and touchdowns in two of the last three seasons. For the past three regular seasons, he has 270 catches for 3,507 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Chris Kluwe's lawyer threatens to sue Vikings
Minneapolis — Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe intends to sue the team over allegations of anti-gay conduct by a coach, his lawyer said.
Lawyer Clayton Halunen said they’ll seek a copy of the Vikings’ internal investigation and make it public if they can. They accused the Vikings of reneging on a pledge to release the report, which they believe corroborates Kluwe’s claims.
The Vikings hired two outside lawyers to examine Kluwe’s claims that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer used slurs and taunts to try to quash Kluwe’s outspoken support for gay marriage. Priefer denied the allegations. Kluwe was cut in May 2013 after eight seasons with the Vikings.
Kluwe said keeping the report private won’t help prevent workplace discrimination. The investigation was conducted by former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Justice Department trial attorney Chris Madel.
The Vikings issued a statement denying they told Halunen during a meeting Monday that they won’t release the report. The team said both sides will meet again Thursday to discuss “issues relating to the investigation.”
Judge refuses to use Redskins name in ruling
Greenbelt, Md. — A federal judge has joined the ranks of those refusing to use the Washington Redskins’ nickname.
U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte issued a pretrial ruling last week in a lawsuit against the team in which he explicitly refused to use the Redskins name. In a footnote, he noted that his refusal to use the name was a conscious decision but did not elaborate.
Lawyers on the case told The Washington Post that Messitte also ordered them not to use the name in court hearings.
The name has come under fire as a racial slur. Last month the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that the name should be stripped of its trademark protection. The Detroit News avoids the use of the Redskins name except for stories specifically dealing with the name.
In his ruling, the judge allowed a former New York Giants linebacker, Barrett Green, to move ahead with a lawsuit claiming he was wrongly targeted in a bounty program run by a former Washington assistant resulting in a career-ending knee injury. In doing so, however, he dismissed some of Green’s specific claims.