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Saints' Graham appeals tight end ruling

(SportsNetwork.com) - Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints has appealed arbitrator Stephen Burbank's recent ruling that he is a tight end for franchise tag purposes.

NFL.com reported the news just hours before the Monday night deadline.

Burbank ruled earlier this month that Graham is indeed a tight end. His appeal will now go to a three-person panel.

The NFL Players Association had filed a grievance on behalf of Graham in May, arguing that he deserved to be designated as a wide receiver under the franchise tag because he spent more time out wide and in the slot than as a traditional tight end at the line of the scrimmage.

Under the franchise tag for the tight end position, Graham would make $7.053 million in 2014, compared to $12.3 million for receivers.

The deadline for franchise players to reach long-term deals is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. The two sides are reportedly nearing a long-term deal that will make Graham the NFL's highest paid tight end.

Graham caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards with a career-high 16 touchdowns last season. He has 301 catches for 3,863 yards with 41 touchdowns in 62 games over his four-year career.

07/14 17:59:24 ET