S hortly after an arbitrator ruled on Wednesday that Saints’ tight end Jimmy Graham is a tight end, Greg Olsen chimed in on Twitter:
Later, during an interview on WFNZ’s ‘Primetime,’ the Panthers tight end elaborated.
“It’s just frustrating. The importance of that role within an offense has kind of taken over the NFL through the last couple years,” Olsen said. “You’re asked to do a lot of different workloads. You’re part receiver, you’re part offensive lineman, but your franchise number is half. It just doesn’t add up.”
It’s not surprising Olsen would be defensive in the wake of a ruling against one of his position brethren. And considering the difference in franchise tags — $7 million for tight ends, $12 million for receivers — Olsen may be on the offensive as well.
“(Graham’s) put up incredible wide receiver numbers for three years, and he has an argument that he should be able to be compensated for his production, and not have that contract number be diminished because of what his roster designation is,” Olsen said.
Olsen’s current contract expires after the Panthers’ 2015 season. He’ll turn 31 that spring — a bit up there in years — but as his last two franchise-record breaking seasons have shown, he’s still in his prime.
Olsen should land one more contract, and who could blame him if he wants that deal to include as many dollars as possible?
There’s also this: Olsen earned $3.3 million in 2013. Steve Smith, the Panthers’ highest-paid receiver, made $5.75 million. Olsen led the team with 73 receptions for 816 yards and six touchdowns. Smith had 64/745/4. Add up the numbers during their three years together in Carolina, you get Olsen — 187/2,199/16 and Smith — 216/3,313/15.
That’s not to make a direct comparision. Smith, the franchise’s best-ever player, deserved every dollar. The point Olsen, Graham and others are trying to make is many of the current-day tight ends shouldn’t necessarily be paid like tight ends of the past.
“One could argue that certain tight ends — Jimmy being one of them — and wide receivers, should be lumped into a receiver category and allow him to capitalize on his wide receiver production,” Olsen said. “There’s a little inconsistency, and right now, tight ends have the second-lowest franchise number below kickers.”