For some reason, there is a thought among more than a few Seahawks fans that Jimmy Graham won’t — or shouldn’t — be back next season.
The Seattle Times even ran a poll asking whether fans thought Graham and/or Marshawn Lynch would be back, and about 22 percent thought Graham would not return.
Clearly, these people have not observed how John Schneider and Pete Carroll do business. Graham is not going anywhere in 2016.
Carroll already has made clear that Graham is a big part of the future, and Darrell Bevell recently said the offense — which finished as one of the best in team history — would only have been better if Graham had not gotten hurt.
For as much as some people groused about how little Graham was used, the fact is he finished second in yards and third in receptions by a tight end in franchise history. And he did it in 11 games.
Some people think the Seahawks need to dump Graham to reclaim the $9 million he is due this year so they can spend it on other players. But the Seahawks never do that to injured players. Or even healthy ones they value.
Remember Sidney Rice? Chris Clemons? Percy Harvin? Zach Miller?
Rice signed a five-year, $41 million deal in 2011 and was put on IR with a concussion after just nine games that first year. Despite his litany of injury issues, including chronic hip and knee problems, the team paid him $23.5 million over three seasons and never asked him to reduce his salary until after his injury-shortened 2013.
Clemons suffered a torn ACL in the playoff win at Washington at the end of the 2012 season, but the Seahawks did not ask him to cut his $6 million salary in 2013. He returned to play that season and the team let him go the following year, when it chose to pay Michael Bennett to return.
Harvin missed basically the entire 2013 season despite being paid $14.5 million, and the Seahawks brought him back at $11 million in 2014 — before finally trading the headcase away at midseason.
Miller had the highest cap number on the team in 2013 — $11 million — and the Seahawks didn’t ask him to alter it even though he clearly was not worth that much. They waited until after that season to reduce his deal — and he didn’t make it through 2014.
As you can see, the Seahawks always give their guys another year to bounce back. It doesn’t matter that the Seahawks inherited Graham’s contract or that they are paying more guys more money now. They acquired Graham knowing his cost, and they are not going to cut him or even ask him to cut his salary just because he got injured.
They will let him rehab his torn patellar tendon and see what he looks like next season. If he comes back to form and is worth the money, the Seahawks probably will give him a contract extension to lower his $10 million cap hit in 2017. If he struggles to regain his form and fades into injury oblivion, as Rice and Miller did, the Seahawks will do what they have to do and let him go next year.
But Graham is not going anywhere this year.