BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 03/12/2015

Graham solves two-position need for Seahawks

In TE Jimmy Graham, formerly with New Orleans, the Seahawks have acquired a scoring machine who has 51 touchdowns since his entry into the NFL in 2010.

Jimmy Graham was called soft and overrated by Seahawks DE Michael Bennett. / Wiki Commons

Although the Seahawks have two significant holes to fill with the defection of OG James Carpenter (2011 first-round pick) to the New York Jets and the trade of C Max Unger (2009 second round) to New Orleans, they solved their obvious need for a wide receiver/tight end by trading for All-Pro Jimmy Graham, who is technically the latter but frequently lines up as the former.

Among other things, the swap means that Russell Wilson won’t be throwing any more absurd slant patterns to Ricardo Lockette at the goal line with a championship at stake. In Graham, the Seahawks have acquired a scoring machine whose 51 touchdowns since 2010 rank second among tight ends over that span to Rob Gronkowski’s 54.

“He’s been a very productive player,” head coach Pete Carroll said in a conference call after Graham’s acquisition. “If you look, I think he has 46 touchdowns since 2011. He’s a big target. He has a basketball background. He has the ability to get off the ground and play high. He’s got a real sense of finishing plays.

“We’ve seen everything he’s done, obviously, from the past couple of years and watched him finish plays around the goal line and find his way in after the catch.”

Since 2010, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees targeted Graham nine times when the Saints had the ball at their opponents’ one-yard line. The pair collaborated for eight touchdowns.

“He’s just a fantastic talent and a great weapon for us,” Carroll added. “I’m sure he’ll be a great benefit for our passing game and for the productivity we want down there (red zone). We always want to run the football, but we need those targets.”

The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Graham entered the NFL out of the University of Miami as a third-round pick in the 2010 draft. In five seasons, he’s caught 386 passes for 4,752 yards and 51 touchdowns. How that compares to the NINE tight ends the Seahawks have employed over the same five-year span:

Tight End Years Games Rec. Yards Y/G TDs RZ TDs
Zach Miller 2011-14 48 102 1092 22.8 8 6
Luke Willson 2013-14 31 42 634 20.5 4 1
Anthony McCoy 2010-14 34 31 437 12.9 3 2
Cooper Helfet 2012-14 10 12 185 18.5 2 2
John Carlson 2010-11 15 31 318 21.2 1 1
Kellen Davis 2013 15 3 32 2.1 1 1
Tony Moeaki 2014 6 8 134 22.3 1 1
Cameron Morrah 2010-12 10 15 191 8 0 0
Evan Moore 2012 14 1 6 0.4 0 0
Totals  2010-14 178 245 3029 14.3 20 14
Jimmy Graham 2010-14 78 386 4752 60.9 51 27

We did not include Jermaine Kearse and Ricardo Lockette in the chart because, while both have occasionally lined up as tight ends, they are primarily wide receivers. And, as you can see, Graham has nearly doubled the production of Seattle’s tight ends in terms of red zone touchdowns.

Graham vs. Seahawks

Graham has never delivered a big game against the Seahawks. Near the end of the 2013 regular season, in a 34-7 loss to Seattle at CenturyLink Field, Graham, targeted nine times by Brees, caught three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown.

In a divisional playoff game at the Clink five weeks later, the Seahawks held Graham to one catch for eight yards, after which some of the Seahawks, notably Michael Bennett, said Graham was “soft”and “overrated.”

“I think he’s overrated and I’m not afraid to say that on TV either,” Bennett told Ian Furness on Q13. This is what Bennett said:

We’ll see if Bennett has a change of heart now that Graham is a teammate.

“I don’t have any thoughts that there’d be a problem,” said Carroll, referencing a pre-game confrontation between Graham and LB Bruce Irvin. “I’m not worried about it a bit. It will be great to get him in here with our guys.”

Update on Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII game-day roster

With Unger’s move to New Orleans, Carpenter’s to the Jets, Byron Maxwell’s to Philadelphia, and Malcolm Smith’s to Oakland, the Seahawks have already lost 17 of the 46 players who participated in Seattle’s 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Among the other notables: RT Breno Giacomini (Jets), WR Golden Tate (Lions), DE Chris Clemons (Jaguars), DT Red Bryant (Jaguars), WR Percy Harvin (Jets), OL Paul McQuistan (Browns), TE Zach Miller (cut), FB Michael Robinson (retired).



  • jafabian

    I have always felt that Miller and Carlson could have had more production than they did as Seahawks. They simply weren’t used in that role under Coach Carroll. It’ll be interesting to see how Graham is used however DangeRuss seems to like having a big target to throw to. Something that was missing with Sidney Rice retired. Didn’t surprise me that Matthews had a multiple catch game in the Super Bowl though his ending production did. Hope Graham will bring back what Rice brought to the offense.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    On paper this is a hugh upside trade.We have been offensively mediocre at the position for too long. We also need WR help. Graham has only been in the league 5years. He is a TE/WR hybrid and he will need to concentrate on every pass if he expects to put up numbers sufficient to get him more money next contract which with Jimmy’s ego is probably his #1 priority.
    One thing for sure?You will never say why didn’t they bring in a kid that has confidence in himself?I’m sure He already feels he will be the difference maker in getting the Hawks another SB ring and that may bear fruit. It took some guts for mgmt not to be gun shy after the Harvin fiasco. Lets see it get us back to SB50 and all of Grahams diva behavior will be put in the category of old hat.

  • 1coolguy

    Best of all worlds is if Miller isn’t claimed by anyone and comes back to the Hawks, then we have him AND Graham, who can then play mostly as a wide-out.

  • RadioGuy

    While it’s good to see the Seahawks bringing in the first elite-level tight end in franchise history (look it up…TE has NEVER been much more than a pass-eligible down lineman since Year One), I do wonder if Graham is going to contribute the kind of blocking you sometimes need from someone at that position. That Seahawks players have called him “soft” makes me wonder because soft players rarely clear lanes for RBs or protect their QB well.

    I’m happy that PC is apparently going to use the tight end as an offensive weapon, but I just hope that it’s not at the expense of the front line’s ability to do what they need to do. I know Steve’s looking at Graham here as a hybrid between TE and WR when that position by definition is already a hybrid between TE and OL.