The Seahawks have three players to consider extending in the next few weeks — or even months — and Pete Carroll sure made it sound like they plan to extend at least a couple of them.
In addition to his comments this week about wanting to re-sign Kam Chancellor, Carroll was effusive in praise of Jimmy Graham on Thursday — a sign that the Hawks do indeed plan to keep the star tight end beyond this coming season.
Graham made an amazing return from a torn patellar tendon last year to set team records in catches (65) and yards (923) by a tight end. He would have been the NFL comeback player of the year if not for Jordy Nelson’s stellar return from a torn ACL.
Two years after the Seahawks acquired Graham in a surprise blockbuster deal with New Orleans, the tight end finally has a full offseason with Russell Wilson. And Carroll is stoked about it.
“I think Jimmy’s offseason is a big highlight for us,” Carroll said. “You know, last year at this time we didn’t know what he was going to be like. … He didn’t even have an offseason. He wasn’t thinking about, ‘I’m going to go make plays.’ He was just trying to get to camp and get healthy.”
This year, Carroll said Graham “had a phenomenal offseason and great work with us. His preparation to get here was just terrific.”
Carroll said Graham has become a complete tight end, able to block as the Hawks like, along with all of his other standout skills.
“I think he’s become such a complete football player,” Carroll said. “Wait until you see him block again this year, because he had a very, very good year in advancing his blocking skills. The demands we placed on him, he accepted and took to heart. You can just tell his confidence level is in the clouds. He knows he can block big guys and ‘backers and DBs. He has no hesitation. He’s totally grown in that area. He’s so much more of a complete player than maybe we thought he would even become really.”
Carroll also brought up the red zone, where Graham was supposed to help Seattle’s offense best but has been very average thanks to predictable play calling and other issues not in Graham’s control. Last season, he caught just 35 percent of passes (6 of 17) thrown to him in the red zone, scoring just four times. He was targeted just twice inside the 10, scoring once. The Hawks have to do better than that with him, and Carroll knows it.
“He and Russell are really tuned in,” Carroll said. “They spend a lot of time together; they communicate beautifully. I think it will hopefully show up as we get closer to the end zone. (We were) not quite as productive as we thought we could be. But that’s a big area of focus for us now.”
The Hawks have a lot of decisions to make on contracts over the next year or so, and it starts with Chancellor, Justin Britt and Graham — all entering the final year of their deals.
Graham, 29, is already the highest-paid tight end in the league, at $10 million a year, so the Hawks aren’t going to pay him any more than that on an extension. But, the way Carroll talked him up, it sure seems like they value him enough to try to keep him.