It took three weeks, but Jimmy Graham finally got himself involved in the Seattle Seahawks passing offense last Sunday. After racking up just 4 catches for 9 yards in weeks 1 and 2, Graham caught 7 passes for 72 yards in Seattle’s 33-27 loss at Tennessee.
One of the common refrains I’ve seen from Seahawks fans on Twitter and occasionally in our own comments sections is “Trade Jimmy Graham for a top offensive lineman!”
@seahawks Trade Jimmy Graham and get us a fucking linemen before our QB gets killed k thanks.— Allan Bond (@AllanBond_) September 24, 2017
Call me crazy, but we need to trade Jimmy Graham. He hasn't done anything in our offense and we need O Lineman BADLY— Tyler Hunt (@vanillaswisha) September 24, 2017
I hate to say it but I think it's time for the #Seahawks to trade Jimmy Graham for some O-Line help. 3 and outs kill us.— Josh (@PinadaGaming) September 24, 2017
I don't normally advocate for trading away a good player. But unless @Seahawks plan to USE HIM, please TRADE Jimmy Graham for O-Line help.— El Idiota Genérico (@jamesisanerd) September 18, 2017
The primary reasoning is that the Seahawks have a bad offensive line (they do!), and the perceived lack of production from Graham means that he’s not worth the $10 million price tag, and it’s time to move on even before he hits free agency in 2018.
My rebuttal: No.
It seems as if there’s selective memory as it pertains to Graham. Last I checked, Graham just had the best single-season for a Seahawks tight end in franchise history, having come off a career-threatening knee injury in November 2015. Jimmy was 8th among TEs in receptions (65), 3rd in yards (923), 1st in YPC (14.2) among TEs with at least 50 catches, and 7th in touchdowns (6). His red-zone numbers could be better, but he was extremely productive last year. Going into the advanced stats, he was 2nd in DYAR and 6th in DVOA among qualified TEs. If you want to talk about the disappointing nature of 2015, he was still tied for 7th for most 20+ yard receptions despite not playing the final five games of the regular season.
This is the player you want to get rid of?
Let’s pretend for a second that the Seahawks do ship Graham somewhere before the October 31st trade deadline. Here are your wide receivers and tight ends available for Russell Wilson to throw to for the remainder of the season:
In the event anything happens to Baldwin (who is already entering the Colts game with a groin injury), you’re looking at Tyler Lockett as your #1 wide receiver and Luke Willson as your #1 tight end. Lockett is a really promising player but I’m not sure his ceiling is higher than a #2 WR, plus he’s coming off his own catastrophic leg break. Willson was Seattle’s #1 TE for almost all of 2014 and had just 22 catches, including 0 targets in Super Bowl XLIX. Not 0 catches, 0 targets. When he had the chance to step up after Graham’s injury, he made a grand total of 5 receptions over the span of four games, of which he suffered a concussion in the loss to the Rams.
Seattle’s approach to building the offensive line has never been through panic trading, of which offloading Graham for, say, Texans LT Duane Brown, would constitute as such. It runs completely counter to the PC/JS philosophy. As bad as the offensive line has been to start 2017, what makes it drastically different from 2015? When the 2015 o-line was grossly underperforming, Seattle dumped Drew Nowak and replaced him with Patrick Lewis. No trades were made.
I want the Seahawks OL to be better. We all want improvement. Expecting a quick fix, plug-and-play deal by somehow grabbing Brown or Joe Thomas is not realistic, and teams are not necessarily willing to take on Graham’s salary in the first place. It’s rosterbation of the highest order.
With all of that said, I don’t believe the Seahawks are going to re-sign Graham in the offseason, which leaves you with Luke Willson (free agent) and Nick Vannett (does he exist?). It’s evident to me that the Seahawks offense works best with someone like Zach Miller as opposed to Graham, who may be a vastly superior receiver, but not necessarily a better all-around player or schematic fit for the current offense. That doesn’t mean Graham has to be scapegoated and routinely put out as trade bait.