John Schneider and Pete Carroll are on a relentless quest to make the Seahawks better each year. After winning the Super Bowl and establishing one of the most dominant defenses in league history, what's next? My belief is that biggest area that this team has to grow is on offense. I feel like we are just scratching the surface and will be gradually transitioning over the next few years into a more dynamic, wide open offense. The running game will always be important to any Pete Carroll offense, but the passing game has lots of room to grow and evolve.
In the upcoming draft, it is assumed that offensive line and wide receiver are a priority to the Seahawks. In particular, the desire for a big wideout--a more dynamic and athletic Big Mike Williams--is strong. Though not thought to be a priority in this draft, the Seahawks have also shown interest in adding a joker tight end--a big, athletic chess piece that would often operate out of the slot but could also be lined up wide or in-line. It is possible that Luke Willson will grow into this role, but kicking tires on Jermichael Finley indicates that we would still be interested in added a more talented option there.
It has been about a month since there was any talk about the Seahawks adding Jimmy Graham. The consensus opinion is that Graham would be too expensive, both in draft picks and monetary compensation. While I understand this sentiment, I am still intrigued by the potential to add a generational talent at a position that is becoming increasingly important in the NFL. Schneider and Carroll look for unique players that tilt the field and, as the Percy Harvin acquisition demonstrates, are willing to pay to get supremely talented players.
The arguments against acquiring Jimmy Graham:
1. Jimmy Graham is soft
With all due respect to Michael Bennett, simply saying someone is "soft and overrated" does not make it so. Graham played most of last season with a partially torn plantar fascia, an incredibly painful foot injury. He also plays tough, finishing off receptions by lowering his shoulder and sacrificing his body to go up high for the ball, leaving himself vulnerable to hard hits. Bottom-line, Graham isn't soft.
2. Jimmy Graham disappears in big games
This myth is largely based on how the Seahawks shut him down this year. I think back to the playoff game against the 49ers a year or two ago when he and Vernon Davis kept going back and forth with big play after big play. I'm not at all concerned about this.
3. The cost of two first round draft picks is too high
I understand this argument, as our draft picks are becoming increasingly important in order to find talented players that come at a bargain price. Was Percy Harvin worth a first and a third? I think he absolutely was. I am all in favor of acquiring all-pro level players by trading picks, as long as it is at a position of need. I'm really excited to see what a full season of our offense with Harvin looks like. Imagine adding Jimmy Graham to the mix.
The Saints have recently said that they don't mind waiting until July to get a long-term deal done for Graham. This lack of urgency presents an opportunity for the Seahawks. My suggestion is that we wait to sign Graham until after this year's draft. That would mean that the two first rounders that we would owe the Saints would come in 2015 and 2016. This would still allow us to draft one of the dynamic receivers from this draft or one of the top offensive linemen.
Also, the Seahawks will be trading late first round picks. These picks are notoriously hit and miss. The last two players drafted in the first round by the Hawks at pick 25 or later: James Carpenter and Lawrence Jackson. I still have high hopes for Carp and I know Jackson was picked by the previous regime, but the point holds true. You just don't know what you're getting late in the first round.
4. Graham would cost too much
There is no question that Graham would be expensive. If signing Graham meant that we would be unable to sign Earl, Sherm, or Wilson, then I would obviously be against the signing. I'm not familiar enough with the cap situation to know for certain if this would be the case. The Seahawks seem to think that they still have some money to spend for the right player, though. I'm not sure how much we offered Jared Allen, but it had to be substantial. In addition, we are alleged to have shown some interest in Desean Jackson. We could still sign Jermichael Finley. Clearly, we have some wiggle room with the cap this year. A contract with Graham could be configured such that the cap figure is relatively small in the first year or two.
Ultimately, the impact of the dollar amount of Graham's contract could be insignificant. Pro Football Talk reported that the cap could increase to $145 million next year and $160 million in 2016. By that point, any contract given to Graham could seem like a relative bargain.
5. Graham doesn't block
I've not watched game film to analyze Graham's blocking prowess. To me, this complaint strikes me as being similar to complaining that Tom Brady doesn't run very well. He is not a traditional, in-line tight end, nor should he be used as such. The Seahawks have shown a penchant to look at what a player can do well, not what he doesn't do. I'll take the 75+ receptions and double digit touchdowns.
This is a rare opportunity to acquire an all-pro talent that has the potential to revolutionize our offense and make it truly elite. As long as the financial cost doesn't preclude us from extending the big 3, the positives significantly outweigh the negatives. On the day after the draft, while calling UDFA's, we should also place a call to Graham's agent and at least see what it would take to acquire him. We were surprised by the Harvin signing. Could we be surprised again?