Cincinnati, OH – The Bengals’ first major move of the offseason Monday all but guaranteed kicker Shayne Graham’s services for the 2009 season and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s entry into free agency. The club announced in a news release that Graham has been named the team’s franchise player, under terms of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement:
The franchise tag gives Graham the option to sign with the Bengals for 2009 for a salary equal to the average of the five highest-paid kickers in the NFL for the previous season (2008 in this case).
Graham is a ninth-year NFL player in 2009. He has played the last six years for Cincinnati after signing as a free agent just before the 2003 season opener. He ranks fourth all-time in the NFL in career field goal accuracy (85.6 percent), and his career accuracy with the Bengals is 87.5 percent — a franchise record by more than 10 points over second-place Doug Pelfrey (77.3).
Graham holds numerous other Bengals career, season and game records. The list includes points in a season (131), FGs in a season (31), FGs in a game (seven), consecutive FGs made (21), season FG percentage (91.2) and consecutive PATs made (158). Graham also handles kickoffs, and in 2008 he passed Pelfrey into second-place in all-time Bengals scoring (682), behind only 13-year Bengal Jim Breech (1151 points from 1980-92).
Graham is also a Bengals leader in service to the community. His Kicks for Kids program provides a wide range of assistance for at-risk children in Greater Cincinnati, and he has been a board member of the Cincinnati FreestoreFoodbank. In 2008, he helped organize the nation’s most successful Taste of the NFL event, raising more than $170,000 for meals for the hungry.
“Shayne has consistently performed at a high level for us, and we expect that same performance in 2009 and hopefully beyond,” said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. “We’ll continue to speak with Shayne and his representatives about signing a longer-term deal.”
“We will also continue to talk with several of our other pending free agents in an ongoing attempt to resign them. Some will want to test their value in the market, and we of course will look at the market for possible new players. But as I’ve said before, the best value for all sides tends to be when a team re-signs its own key free agents, and we will make every attempt to re-sign the players we consider most important for 2009.”
Graham would be permitted to talk with other teams beginning Feb. 27. However, the franchise-player designation means that should Graham agree to terms with another team, the Bengals could retain him by matching the offer. Should the Bengals decline to match a competing offer, the team signing Graham would be required to give the Bengals its first-round choices in the 2009 and 2010 NFL Drafts.
If Graham signs the one-year offer, he and the Bengals are still permitted by the Collective Bargaining Agreement to agree on an extended deal any time prior to July 15.
Unbelievable. As a Who Dey fan you would think you would be used to these shenanigans. And then Mike Brown goes and franchises a kicker. Dead serious if this means that T.J. Houshmandzadeh walks then I may be done. You have to be kidding me.