Now that Jimmy Graham is locked in as a tight end under the franchise tag, the question is whether he can agree to a long-term contract with the New Orleans Saints by the July 15 deadline for franchised players.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday's edition of NFL Total Access that agent Jimmy Sexton and general manager Mickey Loomis will be starting at "ground zero" in negotiations.

Both sides were waiting for Wednesday's ruling as a benchmark for talks. Graham now has 10 days to appeal, which looms as a potential complication.

There is a very real possibility, per Rapoport, that Graham will balk at signing his tender if there is no agreement by the deadline.

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank suggested as much in his ruling, stating that Graham's "consideration of whether to accept the Franchise Player tender is affected by whether the tender is for a one-year contract of $7 million, or $12 million."

In a worst-case scenario for the Saints, Graham could travel the route paved by Logan Mankins in 2010 when the Patriots guard skipped training camp, failed to report for the start of the regular season and only rejoined the team in early November, thereby accruing a season toward free agency.