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Jimmy Graham franchise tagged by New Orleans Saints

Around The League's projected No. 1 free agent is off the market.

NFL Media's Albert Breer reported Friday that the New Orleans Saints placed the franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham, according to a club source. Graham was not officially listed on Friday's NFL transaction wire, but on Monday, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Graham officially was tagged and designated as a tight end.

Graham appeared to confirm the tag Friday on Twitter:

Rapoport reported early in the week that the sides remained millions apart annually in long-term discussions.

The tight-end tag is $7.035 million, according to Breer. Rapoport has reported Graham's camp intends to file a grievance arguing that he's more deserving of the $12.312 million franchise tag for wide receivers. Should another team want to swoop in and make Graham a contract offer, the cost for a player on the non-exclusive tag would be two first-round picks, and the Saints would hold the right to match the offer.

It should be known, per Rapoport, virtually every franchise tag that gets issued is of the non-exclusive variety; quarterbacks usually are the only exceptions.

The 27-year-old led all tight ends with 86 receptions and 1,215 yards and topped all players with 16 receiving touchdowns in 2013.

Those numbers don't even tell the full story. Graham averaged 119 receiving yards per game prior to his late October plantar fascia tear and just 52 yards once his snaps were cut after the injury.

Graham eventually will become the league's highest-paid tight end, but he's a poor bet to win his potential grievance. Modern tight ends align on the line of scrimmage, in the slot and out wide. That's the nature of the position, which differentiates it from others including wide receiver.

The latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast" discusses the top 101 free agents and forecasts the offseasons of the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs.

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