Saints All-Pro Jimmy Graham was designated as the team's franchise player on Friday. But that could be just the beginning of a tug of war between the two sides.
For starters, is Graham a tight end or wide receiver?
The value of the one-year franchise tender for wide receivers is $12.312 million, more than $5 million more than the tag value for tight ends ($7.035 million. The Saints did not declare Graham's position when making the tender and Monday the NFL Management Council ruled that he is a tight end.
It means a grievance is likely to be filed by Graham and the NFL Players Association, which will argue that Graham should be considered a wide receiver, based on the language of the latest labor contract.
The league's release quotes language from the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which states that the tender will be based on "the position ... at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year."
Graham will argue that he lined up more as wide receiver than as a tight end in 2013. The Saints will claim that tight ends routinely line up in the slot, but that this does not make them something other than a tight end.
--The Saints released wide receiver Lance Moore Friday (March 7). Earlier in the day, Moore thanked Saints fans in a farewell message on Twitter.
"Thank you New Orleans for an amazing nine years. Who Dat Nation, the best on earth!!!" he wrote.
Moore, 30, was due to make $3.8 million this year, including a $500,000 roster bonus. He had two years left on his contract.
The Saints will save more than $2.5 million against the salary cap by releasing Moore.
Said general manager Mickey Loomis said, "Just like some of the decisions we made on the defensive side of the ball a few weeks ago, this move today is just as difficult. Lance was very important to our productivity on offense and our success as a team overall. He joined us in the middle of the 2005 season and progressed from the practice squad to becoming one of the most productive receivers in the history of our franchise and helping us win a Super Bowl and reach the postseason five times. You couldn't ask for more from Lance both on and off the field and we wish him the best of luck."
Added coach Sean Payton, "Lance Moore made a significant contribution to our team's success. While his production on paper is obvious, it only tells half the story. Lance came to us an undrafted rookie who went to NFL Europe and spent time on our practice squad. He went on to produce outstanding results on the field for us as a result of his work ethic, reliability and commitment to get better every day. He's been one of the pillars of what we have built here as an organization."
Moore has been with the Saints since joining the practice squad in 2005 -- a longer tenure than anyone else on the roster. He ranks in the top five in franchise history with 346 catches and 38 touchdown receptions. He also has 4,281 receiving yards.
After his first 1,000-yard season in 2012, he was limited to 37 receptions for 457 yards with two touchdowns last year. A hand injury caused him to miss three weeks early in the season.
--The Saints will not re-sign unrestricted free-agent defensive end Kenyon Coleman, The Baton Rouge/New Orleans Advocate confirmed.
Coleman was signed to a one-year contract last spring, but never played a down for the Saints after being put on season-ending injured reserve in training camp with a torn pectoral muscle.
Not re-signing Coleman wasn't a big surprise considering he will turn 35 in April and has wound up on IR the past two seasons. He finished the 2012 season on IR with the Dallas Cowboys after tearing a triceps muscle.
Coleman, who was expected to play a big role for the Saints as a run-stopping end, was replaced in the starting lineup by second-year pro Akiem Hicks.
A third-round draft pick in 2012, Hicks started all 16 games despite some knee and back issues and was fourth on the team with 72 tackles. He also had 4.5 sacks in the regular season.
--Despite Coleman being out of the picture, the Saints apparently won't bring back defensive end Tom Johnson either.
The Saints won't tender an offer to Johnson, a three-year veteran who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent next month.
Johnson, a former Canadian Football League player who joined the Saints in 2011, played in 12 games in 2013. He had two sacks and 15 total tackles while providing depth for Hicks and Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan.
Johnson earned a base salary of $750,000 last year.
--Saints coach Sean Payton filled the only opening on his coaching staff with the hiring of Mike Neu to be the team's quarterbacks coach.
Neu, who has spent eight seasons with the Saints and New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League, had been a member of the Tulane University staff under former Saints wide receiver coach Curtis Johnson.
Neu was hired as the first head coach of the VooDoo in 2003 and was the league's coach of the year after leading his team to an 11-5 record. He had a 33-31 record in four seasons before working for the Saints' player personnel department from 2005-06.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Scheduled to be unrestricted in March
--T Charles Brown
--DE Kenyon Coleman
--C Brian de la Puente
--OLB Parys Haralson
--OLB Will Herring
--ILB Ramon Humber
--FS Malcolm Jenkins
--QB Luke McCown
--WR Robert Meachem
--S Jordan Pugh
--RT Zach Strief
--ILB Jonathan Vilma
CORNERBACK: Keenan Lewis had a solid season, but starter Jabari Greer and nickel back Patrick Robinson are both coming off major knee injuries and Greer was released.
TACKLE: The Saints allowed 37 sacks this past season, the most since Sean Payton arrived in 2006, with most of them coming from the outside.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: Victor Butler will return from a torn ACL and Junior Galette had 12 sacks, but they could use some more depth here.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Jimmy Graham
- Lance Moore
- Sean Payton