BY Art Thiel 02:12PM 03/10/2015

Thiel: Seahawks trade for Saints’ TE Graham

The Seahawks shocked the world again, acquiring Pro Bowl TE Jimmy Graham from the New Orleans Saints for C Max Unger and Seattle’s first-round choice.

TE Jimmy Graham, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has been acquired by the Seattle Seahawks. / Wiki Commons

Ever the unpredictable swaggermen in the personnel bazaar, the Seahawks dropped a blockbuster on the NFL at the commencement of the new league year: TE Jimmy Graham was acquired from the cap-strapped New Orleans Saints for C Max Unger and Seattle’s first-round draft choice in April. The Seahawks also received the Saints’ fourth-round pick in the draft.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection is, at 6-7 and 260 pounds, the large, agile, proven  target the Seahawks have lacked in QB Russell Wilson’s first three years. He has the most receiving yards in a tight end’s first five years in NFL history — 4,752, ahead of Kellen Winslow, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates.

Graham, 28, last year caught 85 passes for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns for a 7-9 Saints team that was burdened by the four-year, $40 million contract Graham signed last summer.

Unger, also 28, was the anchor of the Seahawks’ offensive line that helped lead the NFL in rushing. But he played only six regular-season games after an ankle injury as well as a concussion. The Seahawks also received solid play from backups Patrick Lewis and Lemuel Jeanpierre, although they could address the line in free agency.

The Seahawks also lost James Carpenter in free agency to the New York Jets, but he could be replaced by Alvin Bailey, who started three games in Carpenter’s absence.

Graham was a basketball player at the University of Miami. He played one year of football before becoming a third-round pick of the Saints in 2010.

He made the Pro Bowl in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and was a first team All-Pro pick in 2013, the year the Saints twice played the Seahawks, who shut him down. Graham and Seahawks LB Bruce Irvin were involved in an altercation.

LB Malcolm Smith signs with Raiders; Locker retires

Malcolm Smith, the Most Valuable Player in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win over Denver but unable to crack the starting lineup in Seattle, left in free agency for Oakland, where he was reunited with Ken Norton Jr., the Seahawks’ former linebackers coach who is now the Raiders’ defensive coordinator.

In non-Seahawks news, former Washington Huskies QB Jake Locker announced his retirement from football after four injury-pickled season in Tennessee, which picked him eighth overall in the 2011 draft.

“I am retiring from football after much reflection and discussion with my family,” Locker said in a statement. “I will always be grateful for having had the opportunity to realize my childhood dream of playing in the NFL and for the lifelong relationships I developed because of that experience.

“Football has always played a pivotal role in my life and I love the game, but I no longer have the burning desire necessary to play the game for a living; to continue to do so would be unfair to the next organization with whom I would eventually sign. I realize this decision is surprising to many, but I know in my heart that it is the right decision and I look forward to spending more time with my family and pursuing other interests.”


Unrestricted Free Agents

Date Player Action Skinny
3/8 TE Anthony McCoy Re-signed One year; injured last 2 seasons
3/10 CB Byron Maxwell Signed-Phil 6 years, $63 million: ($10.3 average)
3/10 LG James Carpenter Signed-NYJ 4 years, $20 million
3/10 LB Malcolm Smith Signed-Oak Super Bowl XLVIII MVP

Restricted Free Agents

Date Player Action Skinny
3/6 DE Greg Scruggs Re-signed Injured reserve last 2 years (knee)
3/9 LB Mike Morgan Re-signed Played in 53 games since 2011
3/9 WR Ricardo Lockette Re-signed 11 catches, 2 TDs in ’14
3/9 CB DeShawn Shead Re-signed Played in 16 games with 1 start in ’14

Extensions / Restructures / Cuts

Date Player Action Skinny
3/6 RB Marshawn Lynch Extend. 3 years, $31 million; $12 million in 2015
3/6 TE Zach Miller Cut Played 3 games in ’14; had severe ankle injury
3/6 DT Jesse Williams Cut IR most of last 2 years with knee injuries
3/6 OT Garrett Scott Cut Waived due to a non-football heart condition

Remaining Unrestricted Free Agents

Player Pos. Age Current Avg. Skinny
Kevin Williams DT 34 $2,100,000 Candidate for 1-year deal
Jeron Johnson S 26 $1,500,000 15 games in ’14, 1 start
Demarcus Dobbs DE 27 $1,431,000 4 games in 2014, no starts
Tarvaris Jackson QB 31 $1,250,000 Played in one game in 2014
Heath Farwell ILB 33 $1,125,000 Retiring to coach
Clint Gresham LS 28 $827,500 Played in all 16 games
Landon Cohen DT 28 $730,000 Played in one playoff game
O’Brien Schofield LB 27 $730,000 Played in every game in ’14
Will Tukuafu FB 31 $645,000 Made 2 starts in 2014
Tony Moeaki TE 27 $645,000 6 games, 2 starts in ’14
Lemuel Jeanpierre C 27 $645,000 Played in 15 games in ’14
D’Anthony Smith DT 26 $570,000 Practice-squad player
Bryan Walters WR 27 $570,000 Was not tendered

Remaining Restricted Free Agents

Player Pos. Age Current Avg. Skinny
Stephen Shilling G 26 $645,000 Went on IR Nov. 10 (knee)
David Gilreath WR 26 $495,000 Didn’t play in 2014
Jermaine Kearse WR 25 $480,000 Winning TD in NFC Champ.

Free Agents Signed

Date Player Pos. From Skinny
3/9 Will Blackmon CB Jacksonville 12 starts for the Jaguars last 2 years
3/9 Cary Williams CB Philadelphia Deal is 3 years, $18 million


Date Player Pos. From Skinny
3/10 Jimmy Graham TE New Orleans Cost: C Max Unger, No. 1 pick




  • Topcatone

    Uh, yes, that should easily make up for the loss of Zach Miller (best receiver for Seahawks IMHO).

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Remember “I’m Jimmy Graham” thinks he is a receiver not a tight end. He had similar stats to what Tate put up here to get his big payday in Detroit. The guy is so all about me he does remind me a bit of another guy we couldnt make work here that became a Jet. He better not get lippy with the defense here…he could get flogged before the preseason is even over.
    We need more offense.In theory this could be the terrible tasting tonic that is best for all. We will know come about Halloween I should say.

  • coug73

    In Tom Cable we trust. Find some OL’s and coach them up. Graham, not a favorite of mine. Time will tell. I’ll miss Max, he’s a pro. Good luck Max.

    • John M

      I hope they know what they’re doing, Max is a helluva player . . .

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        A great Seahawk. Multiple Pro Bowler. an outstanding Collegiate in the PNW and one I thought would retire a Hawk. Good Luck in Saint land Max.

  • notaboomer

    i bet max unger voted for give the ball to the beast on 2nd and goal from the 1 in the superbowl. and would have had a big roll in the game-winning block.

  • Sam Finley

    I like Max (and not just because he’s a fellow Oregon alumnus), but he was hurt a lot last season. Patrick Lewis did fine when he started in his place at center, and I’m sure the front office has some more tricks up their sleeves to boost that o-line.

    That said, Graham is type of threat that has been lacking in the passing game. Now, DBs are going to have to choose between man-to-man on Kearse or Baldwin or double teaming the 6’7 tight end. As for the previous issues with Seattle’s defensive players, I’m sure they’ll let bygones be bygones. Things change in a hurry when you wind up on the same team.

    • Estip

      I like Max even though he’s a Duck. He’s a good duck. I hope this trade isn’t a mistake.

  • jafabian

    Word is that Unger was probably going to be a salary cap casualty. If the Hawks don’t sign more free agents than what they lose and not take on more salary than what they lost then they will get compensatory draft picks which right now would be a 3rd and 5th rounder. So they might as well trade Max in that scenario and with the Saints over the salary cap there’s a real possibility they might just cut Max. (doubt it though)

    Does not surprise me that Malcolm went to Oakland since Norton is there. Am a bit surprised at Jake’s retirement. Thought he might be willing to be a backup for a couple years. Wondering if he might join the Hawks if Tavaris is gone after one more year. With the number of injuries he’s had I can see him taking a year off.

  • 1coolguy

    WOW – RW will have to get on his horse losing Carpenter and especially their OL leader Unger. They had a very average line and even though Graham is a major stud receiver, can he block?
    RW is the MVP of this team and I see this clearly as reducing his pass protection, which was miserable last year.
    I was all for IMPROVING the O line this off season, as RW with time is a monster. I sure hope I am wrong but I see this as a dangerous step back.

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Just read today Hawk brass see a lot of potential in rounds 2~4 of the draft. Time for another brilliant pick(s) in that portal to get the O line right again. Hay?They have a history of brilliant picks in the mid to late rounds. Seriously hope they have their best draft ever this spring. They might have to for a return trip to SB50….

  • 1coolguy

    With Willson, Moeaki and Helfet, I look at this as Graham will be an end, not a tight end, which frees him up. Who knows, if Miller isn’t picked up, he may be back with the Hawks, which would really be great.
    I sure hope we have a successful FA and draft that bring on a bunch of O linemen to protect RW.

  • tedsfrozenhead

    This is a great move. Max was a stud and he will always be remembered for bringing a championship to the 12s but Jimmy Graham adds so much. No tight end better in the red zone and a proven play maker. This and adding a top tier WR like Andre will allow Russell to show he is more than a one trick pony who relies on Marshawn to help build his legacy.
    We do need to address the o-line though.. But Cable is one of the best and I am sure JS and PC will give him the talent to work with