The NFL formally designated New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
The designation was released Monday after the deadline passed for NFL teams to use franchise or transition tags on players becoming free agents.
Because Graham often split out from the offensive line as a receiver would, there have been questions concerning whether the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement calls for Graham to have a receiver’s tag, worth $12.1 million. Graham still could file a grievance, leaving an arbitrator to decide which tag is appropriate.
Graham caught a team-leading 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
Graham was one of a number of players designated with a transition or franchise tag on Monday’s deadline. The NFL free agency period begins March 11.
Also tagged Monday were:
• The Browns have locked free agent Pro Bowl center Alex Mack into a one-year, $10.039 million contract with a transition tag.
By using the transition tag, Cleveland will have five days to match any offer to Mack by other teams. If the Browns had used their franchise tag on Mack, he would have made $11.654 million next season.
The decision also means Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward is now a free agent.
Mack has been one of the Browns’ best and most dependable players since they drafted him in the first round in 2009. He has not missed one offensive play in five years, a run of 4,998 consecutive snaps.
The Browns would like to sign Mack to a long-term contract.
• The Washington Redskins placed a franchise tag on three-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, all but ensuring he will remain with the team next season.
The Redskins used the non-exclusive tag, worth about $11.5 million for 2014. He remains eligible to become a free agent later this month, but Washington will have the right to match any offer by another team and could receive two first-round draft picks as compensation if he signs elsewhere.
The Redskins will continue to work on a long-term deal with the 27-year-old 2009 first-round draft pick, whose play at times has straddled the line between good and elite, therefore making it a challenge to gauge his contract value. He has been most effective as a pass-rusher — 39½ sacks over five years — but he has twice torn the pectoral muscle near his left shoulder, leading to questions about his durability.
• The Steelers placed the transition tag on linebacker Jason Worilds.
In other news, the Buffalo Bills chose not to use the franchise tag to retain safety Jairus Byrd, a decision that allows the three-time Pro Bowl player to become an unrestricted free agent.
The decision was announced by the team shortly before the NFL deadline to apply the tag arrived Monday And it came after the two sides were unable to negotiate a long-term contract.
Though the two sides can still talk, it’s unlikely a deal will be reached before the league’s free-agency period opens on March 11.
Negotiations reached a standstill last weekend after the Bills made Byrd what they regarded as a lucrative multiyear offer.
Dolphins sign Grimes
Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes has signed a four-year contract to remain with the Miami Dolphins.
With the deal announced Monday, the Dolphins achieved one of their biggest offseason priorities by avoiding the loss of Grimes in free agency.
The 30-year-old Grimes had four interceptions and played in all 16 games for the Dolphins last year after they signed him to a one-year contract. He spent six years with the Atlanta Falcons and missed almost all of the 2012 season with an Achilles tendon injury.
Grimes also made the Pro Bowl in 2010. He has 59 career starts and 17 interceptions.
Boldin gets two-year deal
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin will be back with the San Francisco 49ers next season.
A person with knowledge of the deal said Monday that Boldin and the 49ers reached an agreement on a two-year, $12 million contract with $9 million guaranteed. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.
ESPN first reported the agreement.
Manning checks out OK
Sixty touchdown passes. Fifteen wins. A fifth MVP trophy.
Peyton Manning is more productive than he’s ever been, and whether he’s deciphering defenses at the line of scrimmage on game day or on his iPad during the week, his love for the game hasn’t waned.
The final piece of evidence that Manning is as good as ever came Monday.
As expected, Manning passed the exam on his surgically repaired neck that was required by his contract with the Broncos that will pay him $20 million next season, according to a person with knowledge of the results. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because results of medical checkups typically aren’t announced.
Manning has said that if doctors tell him he’s at risk physically, he’d have no problem calling it a career.