Just when we thought there wouldn’t be much news for the Seattle Seahawks on the opening day of 2015 NFL Free Agency, Jay Glazer broke Twitter when he reported the that superstar tight end Jimmy Graham was coming to Seattle:
The Saints and Seahawks are trying to finalize trade Jimmy Graham and a 4th rounder for Max Unger and Seattle first rounder
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) March 10, 2015
My first reaction to this move was confusion. The Seahawks just restructured and extended Marshawn Lynch‘s contract after they found out the hard way how much he means to this team. So why would you get rid of arguably your best run-blocker in All-Pro center Max Unger and acquire a tight end, as talented as he is as a receiver, that isn’t known for his blocking ability. Unger was also one of the leaders in the locker room and as steady of a player as you can get. Plus losing a first-round pick is never a good thing, especially when you’re a team like the Seahawks and you’re trying to restock talent without paying for high-priced free agents.
You also have to account for the fact that quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner are also due for new contracts soon, and Graham’s cap hit will make this harder to accommodate who they resign in the coming years.
Not to mention, the first thing that came to mind was the altercations between Graham and some of the players on Seattle’s defense the past couple years. In the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints in 2014, Graham was warming up on the Seahawks’ side of the field and linebacker Bruce Irvin didn’t take too kindly to it. After the Percy Harvin-debacle, I don’t want any players, no matter how talented, entering Seattle’s locker room if they aren’t going to get along with the players. I’m not saying that everyone on the Seahawks’ roster is buddy-buddy with each other, but they can at least stand each other. It’s at least an issue that needs to be addressed before the season.
Because of these reasons I was skeptical about this trade. But once these initial emotions calmed down a bit, this transaction makes total sense, and it addresses the concerns this team faced this offseason. The Seahawks needed a tight end after the loss of Zach Miller, and they got one. They needed a legitimate first option for Wilson and the passing game, and they got one. They needed a big red zone target (2nd and goal at the one…), and boy did they get one. While they may have missed out on Julius Thomas in free agency, they ended up with an even more proven player in Graham.
Graham is the best tight end in the NFL and, at 28, still has many years of great football left in him. A three-time Pro Bowler, Graham compiled 4,752 receiving yards and and 51 touchdowns in his five years in the league. And at 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, he’s a freak-athlete and a matchup nightmare for any defense, especially in the red zone. His presence will give Wilson and the offense an excellent second option in the red zone other than handing it off to Lynch and hoping for the best.
As far as losing Unger, it may not be as bad as it looks on paper. He missed 10 games in 2015, and most of them were during the second-half of the year when the Seahawks made their incredible run. Patrick Lewis did a pretty good job filling in for Unger during this time, and head coach Pete Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable seem to like him. It’s likely that Seattle was concerned about the long-term health of their now former center.
It will be interesting to see how the team will replace Unger, but if you want talent, you have to give up talent. The Seahawks definitely received a talented player, so what will they do with him? Well, only six months until we find out, but here’s a preview.