The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

Should Jimmy Graham be considered a Tight End or a Wide Receiver

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/30/2014 Category: Sports
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 911 times Debate No: 58383
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




The NFL New Orleans Saints have put their franchise tag on Jimmy Graham. The Saints listed him as a Tight End, and he is arguing he is a Wide Receiver. This affects his salary using the Franchise Tag.

The Franchise Tag is a designation a team may apply to a player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
There are three types of Franchise Tags, exclusive, non-exclusive, and transition.
J. Graham was assigned the "exclusive tag" so we are only discussing his eligibility.

An "exclusive" franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. The player's team has all the negotiating rights to the exclusive player.

The rough estimates of the one year salary for Graham: 8 million (as Tight End) or 13 million (as Wide Receiver).

This is an open debate (first come first serve). I will allow the other debater to choose his side of whether Graham should be listed as a Tight end or Wide Receiver.

First round is to state which position you believe Graham should be listed under his franchise tag.

The following rounds will start any and arguments.


I would first like to thank Pro for this debate topic. I am truly excited to be able to debate this.

I will be arguing that Jimmy Graham should be considered a Tight End for the purposes of a franchise tag.

I look forward to this debate! Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting, I will make points as to why I believe Jimmy Graham should be listed as a Wide Receiver (WR) in regards to this franchise tag.

-Wide Receiver: an offensive player who is positioned at a distance from the end and is used primarily as a pass receiver.
-Tight End: an offensive end who lines up close to the tackle.

The NFL has been acquiring players of many different body types over the years creating hybrid positions for these players. Defensive Ends become Outside Linebackers, Half Backs become Wide Receivers. Tight Ends become Wide Receivers.

The only thing that make Jimmy Graham a Tight End is the TE next to his name on the Saints roster.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Signed by Teams and Players states: "a player is whichever position he played the most snaps at in the prior year". Jimmy Graham played 67% off of the offensive line. By definition, this would make him a Wide Receiver.

I am all for Hybrid positions. Utilizing players for their strengths, but if a team (the Saints) primarily used their "tight end" as a wide receiver, he should be paid how he was used. Not what is says on a piece of paper in the GMs office, or on the coaches clipboard.



Thank you, Pro. I will begin with my constructive, and then rebut Pro's case. Throughout, I will abbreviate tight end as TE and wide receiver as WR.


I would like for the floor to first consider that the TE is a fairly amorphous position that carries out a wide array of roles and lines up in a wide array of positions depending on the team and system. With this in mind, I will demonstrate how the tag of TE better suits Jimmy Graham.

I. Self-Identification

This point will be fairly self-explanatory. Jimmy Graham was classified and drafted as a TE when he came into the league [1]. On his own Twitter profile, he identifies himself as a TE [2]. This self-identification and longtime classification belies Graham's current case, demonstrating the contradiction between word and action.

I would also, under this point, like to point out the discrepancy between Jimmy Graham's anatomical statistics and the standard for the WR position. Note that Jimmy Graham is 6'7', 265 lbs [3]. Among all receivers at the 2014 NFL combine, for instance, the greatest height and weight was 6'5' 240 lbs [4]. In contrast, the greatest among TEs was 6'6' 270 [5], more in line with both Graham's size and the historical description for the position [6].

II. Game Usage

Firstly, taking Pro's TE definition ad arguendum, Jimmy Graham DOES line up close to the tackle on the majority of plays, if we take "close," which, while ambiguous, as around 4 yards. In this case, Graham lines up "close" to the tackle on 60% of plays [7]. This would make him a TE by Pro's definition.

Moreover, Graham often initially lines up as a TE, and, then, to take advantage of matchups or to confuse the opposing defenses, motions out to a split position [8]. This would surely make Graham appear as a TE who is flexed to a wide position to take advantage of Graham's particular skill set and the defense's position.

To substantiate the argument that Graham's positioning is a ploy to take advantage of his skills as a TE while matched up against an inferior defender, we must examine who matches up against Graham. On the vast, vast majority of plays, Graham is defended by either a S or a LB [9], where WRs are almost exclusively defended by CBs [9]. In fact, when defended by a CB, Graham's statistics drop considerably, causing the Saints to line him up more frequently as a TE [9].

Thus, it becomes clear that Graham lines up as a TE when 1) Analyzing the distinctions between the alignment of slot receivers and TEs, and 2) Considering Graham's skill set and matchups.


Pro has two key lines of argument.

The first is that hybrid positions should are cool, essentially. However, the distinction is that, with his unique blend of size, speed, blocking skill, and hands, Graham clearly fits the mold of a receiving TE [8]. He is too large to be a WR and lines up almost exclusively against defenders used against TEs.

The second is that Graham lines up 67% off the offensive line. This is deceptive for the two reasons I presented above: 1) Graham actually lines up very close, if not on the line, on a majority of snaps, and 2) Graham frequently motions out of a TE set to take advantage of matchups. These bring more nuance to the over-generalized figure presented by Pro and cast serious doubt upon Graham's claim.

I would also like to note that Pro's definitions of TE and WR both 1) Are incredibly ambiguous and lagging behind the increasingly complex offensive systems utilized by coaches, and 2) Negate Pro's defense of hybrid positions. I have not presented a dictionary definition of a TE; rather, I have shown a dynamic anatomical, skills-driven, and analytical approach to determining positioning, something Pro cannot match.

Thank you.


Debate Round No. 2


Well said. I will finish my with three stages. Rebuttal, Any further arguments, Closing Statement.


Con makes two arguments. Self identification and Game usage. "Jimmy Graham was classified and drafted as a TE when he came into the league [1]. On his own Twitter profile, he identifies himself as a TE [2]."

Being drafted to a certain position does not force you to stay in that position. Players may change to a different position based on team need. While I believe his Twitter Bio wasn't changed since he was drafted, he could have called himself the "King of Prussia" and it would be true. I am also sure before the season he assumed he would be considered a tight end, but his on field play showed otherwise.

Graham is 6-7 265lbs. This is out of the ordinary for a WR, yes. However, Matt Ware, cornerback of the Arizona Cardinals, is 6-2 215lbs. The average cornerback is 5-11 195lbs. It is not uncommon, and would actually be odd, if there were no outliers in anatomical averages at a certain position.

The second argument: Game usage.
'Close' is an ambiguous term, and all of offensive players could be considered 'close'. Tight ends are considered to line up just off the offence tackles, on the line of scrimmage to assist with blocking, as part of there duty as a tight end.
Graham was taken off the field on many defensive plays because he is a poor blocker diminishing one of his obligations as a TE, making him more as of WR.

The argument has been made that he will line up in such a position and motion out to the Slot thus thickening the plot. Offensive schemes are becoming increasingly complex. They require a lot of motion to keep the defense unaware of routes, blocking schemes, etc. Wide receivers occasionally start in the backfield (normally held by a Running Back) and then motion out wide. Quarterbacks have been known to motion out wide in the commonly known "Wildcat" scheme. Motioning on plays is typical among any eligible receiver on offense and has little bearing on ones position.

A defense has the right to assign any defenders to any player it deems fit. A typical WR (for example Wes Welker) could line up in the backfield, or next to the offensive line similar to a TE. However, the defense will still put a cornerback on him because of his speed. Defenses choose to put a linebacker or safety on Graham because of his size. The typical cornerback is not strong enough to battle Graham, so they choose bigger defenders to handle his bulk.
Defenses do not dictate an offensive players position, they merely adapt to the circumstances.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement describes "at which the Franchise player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year" not 'which defender typically covers a certain position'.

Which leads me into my Final Argument...

Where Graham may start a a snap in the tight end position, but he motions to the Slot position(normally held by a WR). Therefore, he is beginning that play as a WR. Regardless of where he started Pre-Snap, He ends up as a WR based on the CBA. Which should require him to be paid as such.

I believe we will now see changes, regardless of the outcome for Jimmy Graham's Franchise Tag Salary, in how we determine position for players. Whether they be agreed upon before the season, or if there is a better definition given to "where they play". The reason for this debate is because the NFL has left so many terms loosely defined, making it difficult to discern how we are supposed to handle situation like these.

This has been a wonderful debate, I commend my opponent for accepting and readily responding today. I look forward to your closing arguments.



Hello everyone, and thank you Pro for this debate. It has been enjoyable and informative.

That said, this round is an easy Con ballot.

Pro would have you believe three things: 1) Self-identification does not matter, 2) The TE position can be readily defined, and 3) Game usage shows Graham to be a TE. These are all faulty.

I. Self-Identification

I argued that Graham's self-identification as a TE shows him to be a TE, or, at the minimum, subverts his claim as a WR. The only response is that Pro gives is that Graham could have said anything, regardless of truth. However, if Graham were to claim that he was the King of Prussia online, in a public forum, that can be changed whenever and wherever, to be the King of Norway and Not Prussia, then that would cast serious doubt on his claim to the throne of Norway and not Prussia, at the minimum.

I also argued that Graham's size necessitates his designation as a TE. The only response we get here is that outliers exist, and some CB on the Cardinals is larger than average. This misses the point. Graham would be substantially larger, by at least two inches and 15 lbs, the biggest WR in the NFL. This is a massive difference. Moreover, the biggest CB from the last Combine was Stanley Jean-Baptiste, from Nebraska, at 6'3' 228 [1]. This means that 1) Pro's counterexample falls, and 2) There are legitimate ceilings and floors of each position (see my earlier sourcing), and Graham breaks the ceiling for WRs.

II. Game Usage

I would like to quibble with the idea that Pro can, somehow, shift his definition, without citation, from "close" to "directly next to the tackle." If within 4 yards, less than 1/15 of the width of the football field, is not considered "close," than I do not know what possibly could be. Pro cannot fiat a definition, and then shift it. We must be reasonable when assessing positioning and distance, addressing the issue with more nuance.

Graham lines up "close" to the tackle on a majority of plays. On a large minority, he lines up as a TE, to later flex out to take advantage of matchups. On the remainder, he is guarded by a S or LB, not a CB, as all receivers are (see earlier sourcing). In fact, when matched up with a CB, Graham struggles and is flexed right next to the tackle (again, see earlier sourcing).

This goes effectively dropped by Pro, except for saying that the end position, not the initial starting position, determines positioning. However, Pro contradicts himself when mentioning the Wildcat, which motions a QB out to a wide position. Surely a QB is not a receiver. He has been shifted to take advantage of matchups. If this is the case, Graham's skills and sets clearly show him to be a receiving TE, not a receiver.


Pro has not substantially shown why Graham's status should be shifted from TE to WR (which, incidentally, means he has failed the BOP in the round). I have demonstrated that Graham has the physical and personal attributes of a TE, lines up as a TE, and is guarded as if he is a TE. Pro's simplistic (and singular) counter-analysis cannot stand against a more nuanced analysis of this issue. Football, and its positioning, is not black and white; it is adaptive, flexible, and shifting frequently. If this is the case, we should default to the facts available to us. These facts show Graham to be a TE.

As they say, if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck. Graham has the build of a TE, lines up as a TE, and identifies himself on personal media as a TE. He should be considered a TE.

I am proud to oppose. Thank you.


Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Domr 7 years ago
It seems the NFL arbitrator has deemed him as a tight end due to the versatile role of the tight end position today. Please vote for con.

It was a great debate! I hope they clarify the definitions of certain positions so we do not have this arise in future NFL negotiations!

Thanks Truth.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: con was the only one to use sources, and his good structure helped to rebut his opponent's arguments

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