The Seattle Seahawks have become somewhat of a dynasty over the last couple years. Since 2010 Seattle has made the playoffs six out of the last seven seasons. They win the Super Bowl in 2014 and made it back in a losing effort to the Patriots. Since that controversial pass that ended their 2015 season they have slowly begun to decline.
After that season they traded their traded fantastic center Max Unger and their first round pick to the Saints for tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth round pick. At the time it seemed like a great move, but it just hasn’t panned out the way everyone thought it would. The loss of Unger and the eventual loss of left tackle Russel Okung in free agency last offseason has contributed to a sharp decline on the offensive line. The retirement of Marshawn Lynch has also not been friendly to the Seattle offense.
Seahawks Need to Part Ways With Jimmy Graham
Needless to say, the move to land Graham hasn’t paid off and it’s fair to wonder if the Seahawks could start thinking about moving on.
Now just because Jimmy Graham has not necessarily been what they thought he is, that is not really the reasoning behind Seattle trading him. For starters, he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and will be a $10 million cap hit when it is all said and done this season. After the lack luster 2015 season where he only hauled in 48 passes for 605 yards and two touchdowns he stepped it back up this season. This year he was able to bring in 65 catches for 923 yards and six touchdowns. Yes, this is only the fourth best season of his career, but he was able to show that he still has it.
The real reason why Seattle should trade Jimmy Graham is at this point they are set to have only six draft picks going into the 2017 NFL Draft. They have their first through third round picks, their sixth round pick, the Panthers seventh round pick, and their seventh round pick. They traded their fourth to the patriots for their fifth and seventh round picks from last season, they forfeited their fifth round pick for offseason workout violations, and they picked up the Panthers seventh round pick for Kevin Norwood.
They could have as little as four picks if they lose their second round pick for not disclosing Richard Sherman’s knee injury all season. They could also lose their seventh round pick based on unspecified conditions from their trade with the Raiders for Dewey Alexander. As you can see, if these two things take place the Seahawks could be in a really tricky draft situation.
They really need these picks, too. They need major help in the trenches on both sides of the ball and at corner back. With Sherman banged up and Earl Thomas out they ranked thirtieth in pass defense. They also struggled to get sustained pressure on the quarterback. Their biggest issue as many know was on the offensive line. They ranked 27th in pass-blocking, 29th in run-blocking, and 27th in penalties according to Pro Football Focus. With only four to maybe a maximum of six picks it will be tough to address those issues.
Even though this is set to be the best tight end draft class in quite some time, Jimmy Graham could make a bigger impact faster for a contending team. I am not saying Seattle will be able to get a first or second with Graham’s contract expiring and him being a sub-par blocker. They could get anywhere from a 3rd to a fifth depending on the team they trade with. They could pick up multiple mid to late round picks as well depending on how he is viewed by certain organizations.
As far as replacing Graham once traded away, Seattle can slot Luke Wilson back in as the starter where he did a fine job before Graham was acquired and dominate the middle to late rounds of the draft as they have done since Pete Carrol has been there. They can get some real value at positions of need in those rounds. With Seattle’s luck if they do choose to trade Jimmy Graham there will be suitors because there are quite a few teams with tight end needs in the NFL. I looked for teams that were only missing a piece or two and were playoff contenders. He is a $10 million cap hit, but the three teams I chose have over $20 million pre-cap casualty cuts.
Who Will Trade For Jimmy Graham?
The first team up is the Miami Dolphins. With $30 million in cap space and a late first round pick, I would say Jimmy Graham is a decent fit here. This team has a great offensive line, great running game, and good receivers. Tannehill is still inconsistent at the quarterback position which makes Jimmy Graham a perfect fit. Giving Tannehill another weapon will only make him and the team overall better. What could hinder this is the fact that the Dolphins traded their 3rd round pick to the Vikings. If they feel like this would be the move to put them over the top I think they should pull the trigger if he becomes available.
The next team up which I think is a perfect landing spot for Graham is the Denver Broncos. They have $33 million in cap space and he could really work wonders in that offense. With a shaky run game and a question mark at the quarterback position, Jimmy Graham can really open this offense up no matter who is under center. He could be the security blanket for whoever the quarterback is and help not only open up Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, but also open up the run game a little. Denver could fill other needs in free agency though. They could also be in position to get O.J. Howard at the spot they are at. But they have seven picks and could use a pick or two to pick up a playmaker for a playoff push. In that tough division, Graham could help put them back at the top.
The final team I chose is the New York Giants. They have $23 million in cap space and could be the most desperate contender for a tight end. In an underachieving offense with two bad tackles and no run game to speak of, this could be the missing link. With a declining franchise quarterback and top tier receiver in his prime this could be the move that puts the Giants over the top for a deep push. They have their full stable of picks, but their fourth round pick was pushed to the back of the round. The Giants do have some free agents of their own to sign such as Jonathan Hankins and Jason Pierre-Paul, so I am not sure the money will be there at the end of the day. Like the other two teams, this can really put the offense into another gear.
Whether Seattle decides to trade him or not, I think for the right price it could be the best thing for them to do. If they plan to keep Graham for the long-term than I get holding on to him, but if they aren’t going to be willing to pay the man then he has to go. Seattle has a lot of holes and they have begun a slow decline the last two seasons. With their division being weak they can survive, but for how long? Graham has not been the difference maker anybody thought he would be there. They need to get as many picks as they can to replenish their roster and stay at the top of the conference. These three teams are not the only teams in the market for a tight end, there could be others. It is tough to stay at the top of the NFL for a long time. Will Seattle continue to sink or stay afloat for years to come?