What about Jimmy Graham?
That is the question many are asking as the Seahawks embark on the most important offseason of John Schneider’s tenure (or at least since they went quarterback hunting in 2012).
It’s preposterous to think the Seahawks would cut Graham, who just rallied from a severe knee injury to set team records for receptions and yards by a tight end. And it doesn’t sound like the Seahawks will be interested in trading him either.
Graham is signed through 2017, at a cost of $10 million. But many think the Seahawks are wasting that money because they don’t use Graham properly. Some uneducated fans think the Seahawks should flat-out cut him, which is a ridiculous thought about a guy who proved he is still in his prime and very capable of being a major weapon for a team that uses him right. He has value.
The argument for trading him is compelling. The Seahawks waste Graham’s talent, not using him enough or in the right ways, and could use that $10 million on a trade for Cleveland All-Pro Joe Thomas (still very unlikely) or a couple of free agents they might use to better effect. Plus, the Hawks won a Super Bowl without a star tight end.
The Seahawks have done a lot of stupid things on offense under Pete Carroll, but one of the dumbest has been the insistence on making Graham a blocking tight end. They required the super playmaker to turn into a “complete Seahawks tight end” — meaning he stay in and block half the time. What a waste of talent.
The guy is a major weapon in the passing game and should be used as such. Instead of making him stay in to block, just hit the 6-foot-7 target on little pop passes off the line of scrimmage. Darrell Bevell also runs him on too many horizontal routes — short outs that gain nothing. Bevell should be sending Graham vertical a lot more — either on the quick hitters or post-up curls or deep seam patterns. He’s good at all of them, yet runs them not nearly enough.
And, of course, he is not targeted in the red zone as well as he should be; it’s less about the number of targets than the quality of plays (just 40 percent completions on 20 targets in 2016). Bevell just doesn’t know how to use him.
If the Seahawks are going to continue to misuse him, they certainly should consider spending that money on a player they might use more appropriately.
That said, it would be a big surprise if Schneider pulled an about-face and dealt Graham just two years after he acquired him. The GM surely made that move with the thought that Graham would remain a Seahawk beyond his current contract. And Graham certainly has done nothing to alter the opinions of Schneider and Carroll. His 65 catches and 923 yards both broke John Carlson’s records for a Seattle tight end, and he did it coming off an injury that often ruins careers.
So, while Graham obviously is being misused and is therefore not worth the $10 million payout, the simple fact is Schneider is not going to stupidly cut Graham and probably won’t consider trading him either.
The question is really whether Schneider will extend him or let him play out his deal and maybe get a third-round comp pick for him in 2019.
Put your money on the extension.