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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Its the $5 million question thats rumbling through NFL front offices and locker rooms alike: Is All-Pro Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints a tight end or a really big wide receiver? It matters to men like Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas of the Denver Broncos, whos up for a big pay raise and could be facing a franchise tag himself after the upcoming season. The Saints gave Graham the franchise tag for about $7 million as a tight end, the position hes been listed at for his entire four-year career -- and which he himself lists on his Twitter account. Graham contends that because he more often is split out away from the tackle, he is really a wide receiver. And, after all, he did lead the league with 16 touchdown catches last season. That franchise tag is worth about $12.3 million. The sides stated their cases in an arbitration hearing earlier this week in Louisiana and are awaiting a ruling from arbitrator Stephen Burbank. Thomas is understandably interested in the outcome. "Ive kind of been keeping ... an eye on that situation, obviously, because it could probably come back to affect a lot of us tight ends," said Thomas, who is scheduled to make $645,000 this year. "But the way I feel about it is, Does two letters next to your name on the depth chart really determine your value to a team?" When it comes to franchise tags in the NFL, it certainly does. The Saints note that Graham made the All-Pro team and the Pro Bowl as a tight end and was drafted as a tight end. Graham points to the 86 passes he caught for 1,215 yards last season -- numbers any wide receiver would envy. "Does it matter if hes a tight end, or if he calls himself a slot receiver or a running back?" Thomas said. "I mean, if youre going to have double-digit touchdowns and contribute a bunch of yards in the receiving game, I just say that youre a guy that makes great plays and are a value to your team. So I dont know why the argument necessarily comes down to either youre a tight end or a receiver. I think that if youre a guy that makes plays, thats how you should be valued." Its because top-tier wide receivers make much more money than the games best tight ends. "Thats true. So I guess thats why its a topic," Thomas said. "But Ill say again: I think if youre a basketball player, they wouldnt say, Ah, youre a power forward. Really look out for those point guards. So I dont think that the position matters. I think if youre a guy making plays for your team, then that should be your value." Denver general manager John Elway has opened talks with representatives of both Thomas and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who are entering the final year of their respective rookie deals and would like any deal to get done by the start of training camp next month. Demaryius Thomas, who has two dozen TD catches since Peyton Mannings arrival and was the lone bright spot for Denver in the Super Bowl, figures to command around $60 million over five years after putting up back-to-back stellar seasons that vaulted him to elite wide receiver status. Yet, it was Julius Thomas who was the key to Denvers record-breaking offence last season. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound late-bloomer was a matchup nightmare for defences and the bulls-eye for many of Mannings biggest moments last season when he earned his first Pro Bowl honour. He caught the quarterbacks 51st TD throw that broke Tom Bradys single-season record, one of his dozen TD receptions that broke Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpes team record for tight ends. And he came up huge in the Broncos two wins that got them to their first Super Bowl in 15 years. Broncos coach John Fox said the tight end position has evolved over the years to the point that "its like another receiver" rather than "an offensive tackle lined up to block." Thats not to say Fox is going to dive into the debate over whether a tight end actually is a wide receiver. "Im not getting into that," Fox said with a chuckle. "Ill leave that for other people." Philadelphia Phillies Store . I wondered how NHL coaches would feel about a playoff schedule that allowed them to open a best-of-seven series on the road, which many claim to favour, yet still gave them the precious home-ice edge for a seventh game. Philadelphia Phillies Gear . Chris Johnson singled with two outs off left-hander Jerry Blevins (1-1), and Schafer pinch ran. With a 2-2 count, Schafer ran on the pitch and Upton dropped a single in front of Bryce Harper. Schafer already was rounding third when Schafer bobbled the ball. https://www.cheapphilliesjerseys.us/ . Terry came from Boston along with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce but has appeared in just 35 games after a knee injury, averaging 4.5 points on 36 per cent shooting. Evans was a favourite of fans but not coach Jason Kidd, who used him in just 30 of their 51 games. Philadelphia Phillies Shirts . Louis, MO (SportsNetwork. Phillies Jerseys China . Hazard lasted just 18 minutes in Tuesdays contest before being substituted with the calf problem, and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes he will be without his star winger for at least the next two weeks.When the Carolina Hurricanes went into the 2002 playoffs, they didnt necessarily think they were Stanley Cup contenders. Then Paul Maurice worked his magic behind the bench. "We could feel it within our room, we could feel it on our bench, we could feel it on our plane" former Carolina goaltender Kevin Weekes said. "And we knew that we were a prepared group, we knew that we were a committed group, we knew we were a group that believed, and Coach Maurice went a long way in creating that atmosphere." Maurice got that group to the Cup final as part of an impressive tenure in Carolina. Almost 12 years after that run, Maurice on Sunday replaced Claude Noel as coach of the Winnipeg Jets, and a handful of his former Hurricanes players consider it a good fit based on what he did for them. "I think hes a very underrated coach," said Hall of Famer and former Carolina captain Ron Francis, who also worked as an assistant under Maurice. "Hes a very bright guy, hes good at assessing the talent he has and then structuring the system that he believes will get the most out of the lineup that he has on a game-in, game-out basis." Maurice has his fair share of issues to deal with to fix what ails the Jets, who are 10 points out of the Western Conferences final playoff spot after losing five in a row. "I would imagine the strategy for him, hed be a little bit of a detective going in there," said Jeff ONeill who played for Maurice in Carolina and Toronto. "Hes going to find out what the problems are and hes going to address the issues. And thats probably the first order of business." Its not exactly new business, either. When Maurice became Whalers coach early in the 1995-96 season, he inherited a Hartford team that missed the playoffs in each of the past three years. The Jets missed the playoffs in their first two seasons in Winnipeg and havent made it since 2006-07 as the Atlanta Thrashers. At least its a familiar challenge for Maurice. "It almost works in his favour that this is not a new situation for him," said former defenceman Aaron Ward. "Hes never really walked into a situation where hes had a cupboard full of unbelievable talent." Winnipeg doesnt have unbelievable talent, but theres a core in place beginning with captain Andrew Ladd, U.S. Olympian Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien. Those early Whalers teams were led by Geoff Sanderson, Andrew Cassels and Keith Primeau. Maurice didnt turn things around right away, but by the second season of the Hurricanes after the move to North Carolina, they were in the playoffs thanks to contributions from Primeau, Sami Kapanen, Francis and goaltender Arturs Irbe. The 2002 run to the Cup final was Maurices most memorable achievement, taking an unheralded group led by Francis and Rod BrindAmour to within three victories of knocking off the talent-rich Detroit Red Wings. Even today, Francis wondered what wouldve happened if Carolina didnt lost Game 3 in triple overtime. "I think he just had the guys believing that we were capable of doing it," said Francis, whos now vice president of hockey operations for the Hurricanes. "We kept everything sort of simple and the focus on the direction it needed to be kept on, and as a result you had a team that believes in itself, believes in each other and some may say overachieved, but not according to the guys in that locker room or the coaching staff. We certainly believed we belonged right to the end." Maurice isnt the same man he was when he got his first NHL head-coaching job at the age of 28 or even the same from 2002. Maurice has coached 1,084 games with the Whalers, Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs and isnt a fresh-faced youngster anymore. "Obviously he knows what works and wwhat doesnt work now," ONeill said.dddddddddddd "I think maybe when he was younger he thought he had to be a hard ass all the time for guys to kind of buy in and believe it, and then later on the message didnt have to be that because he was established, he had coached so many games." Maurice is 46 now, armed with experience from coaching Metallurg in Russias Kontinental Hockey League and doing some television analysis. Francis worked on Maurices staff in 2009-10 and 2010-11 and saw how he matured and changed over time. Francis has no doubt Maurice has adjusted with a changing league. "Hes very bright, hes a good student of the game and hes watching whats happening and how things are evolving," Francis said. "He incorporates that into his game plan and his systems. Theres no question he doesnt get stuck on one particular thing but more or less moves with the times." Times now are about youth, as Weekes pointed out the NHL has never been younger. Maurice will be charged with figuring out how to best use defenceman Jacob Trouba, centre Mark Scheifele and others in the pipeline in Winnipeg. Based on what Maurice did at the junior level, including winning the 1995 OHL title with the Detroit Jr. Red Wings, and how much he accomplished with the Hurricanes, his former players know where his strengths lie. Most notably, he can maximize the talent at his disposal. "Its one thing to coach somebody up, its another thing to just coach and its another thing to coach somebody down," Weekes said. "Paul Maurice is somebody that Ive seen, and one of the few that Ive seen as a head coach in my time, that coached you up." If the Jets hope to make up a substantial deficit to get back into contention this season or at least make strides for the future, itll be up to Maurice to coach up like he did in Carolina. That job starts with creating an identity for a team that has been lacking one. Those Hurricanes teams are a nice blue print. "I think its a team that works extremely hard," Francis said. "I think its a team that tries to be very solid in its own end and then try to get in on the forecheck as quickly and as aggressively as possible. Those are some of the trademarks that he really liked to incorporate into his team." Personal relationships also are a trademark of Maurices coaching. Weekes said Maurice knew how to treat players as players and as people, and Francis lauded his "open-door policy," which could benefit Ladd. "At any point as a captain, if I wanted to walk in and have a conversation with him, I felt comfortable doing that," Francis said. "We could talk about everything from my individual game to team concepts and systems or strengths and weaknesses and how to adjust things. And it was no different being a part of the coaching staff. He gave everybody a voice. Youre allowed to kind of say your piece and what you thought, and at the end of the day it was his job as head coach to make the final decision. But he certainly gave you that opportunity to express what you felt." Maurice certainly hasnt been perfect. During his 13 full seasons as an NHL head coach, his teams made the playoffs five times and missed eight. But Weekes, who was part of just one Maurice-led playoff team, praised him as "hands-down" the best coach he ever played for. "He set the right tone with the staff, certainly with all of our players, and for the most part youd have to say he put all of us in a position to succeed," Weekes said. "Everything was structured, our work ethic as a team was through the roof, and I think that really reflected our coaches, starting with Coach Maurice, just in terms of the preparation, the practice detail, the tempo -- us doing all the little things that it took the be successful." ' ' '