The Seahawks’ trade for Jimmy Graham didn’t work out as poorly as everyone in Seattle seems to think.
In fact, it kind of worked.
But that’s no reason to think that Seattle should re-sign the guy who just might be the single most productive afterthought of a free agent in Seattle sports history.
No one has done more and had this city worry less about the pending departure.
Not that Seattle has the final choice. Graham hasn’t given a single hint that he’s interested in returning, and yet after leading the Seahawks with 10 touchdowns in 2018, more people would complain if he was re-signed by the Seahawks than if he left. I would certainly be part of that chorus, which is weird, because the trade didn’t turn out all that poorly for the Seahawks.
In Graham’s three seasons in Seattle, only Doug Baldwin scored more touchdowns, which is remarkable considering that Graham suffered a serious – and totally unforeseeable – knee injury halfway through his first season in town. He averaged more than 50 receptions a season for Seattle in spite of that injury and scored a total of 18 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski scored 22 in that same time span, which gives you an idea of how potent Graham was.
Compared to the deal for Percy Harvin, this was a veritable home run. The Seahawks gave up more draft picks and paid Harvin a total of $18 million for six regular-season games and one Super Bowl touchdown, and yet Graham’s acquisition has come to be seen as the moment that Seattle lost its toughness.
That wasn’t his fault. At all.
Seattle didn’t give up center Max Unger because it wanted Graham. It gave up Unger because the Seahawks were so convinced their center was breaking down. They were likely going to cut him if they didn’t find a team to trade him.
Seattle’s mistake was undervaluing Unger, not in overvaluing Graham, but that was only the second-biggest error the Seahawks made with regard to Graham.
The other was counting on him to be a blocker, an insistence the Seahawks continued right down to the regular-season finale when they ran to his side on a third-and-1 play counting on Graham to block Josh Mauro – a defensive end.
It made about as much sense as using a Ferrari to tow a trailer, and it was probably even less effective. The Seahawks were stopped, forced to punt.
And now Graham is set to be a free agent, and the Seahawks have a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer and an offensive line coach who may not be so insistent on using Graham for the heavy lifting.
That doesn’t mean the Seahawks should be any more inclined to keep him, though. This is an offense that needs to get back to running the football effectively, and that’s not part of this player’s particular set of skills.
Trading for Graham wasn’t necessarily a mistake for Seattle. Bringing him back would be, though.