Yes, the Saints like the decision from arbitrator Stephen Burbank that tight end Jimmy Graham is a tight end for franchise-tag purposes. But the Saints aren’t thrilled with the way Burbank reached his conclusion.

Per a source with knowledge of the team’s position, the Saints disagree with the notion that the question of tight end vs. receiver boils down to whether the player lines up most of the time within four yards of an offensive tackle. As the Saints see it, a tight end is a tight end no matter where he lines up or how often he lines up there.

The Saints see three key factors for determining tight end status: (1) the player’s size; (2) the player’s position group for practice and meeting purposes; and (3) the manner in which the opponent defends him in man coverage.

The shifting of tight ends to the slot between the tackle and receiver and/or wide of the widest receiver has nothing to do with making the tight end into a wide receiver. Moving the tight end has one primary goal: To aid the offense’s assessment before the snap as to whether the defense has lined up in man or zone.

Because most teams defend tight ends when in man coverage with a linebacker or a safety, the use of a linebacker or a safety to cover a tight end when he’s in the slot or split wide means that the defense is showing man-to-man coverage before the snap. If the tight end lines up in the slot or wide and a cornerback lines up on him, the defense is conveying a zone look.