Tuesday, 10 March 2015 00:00

Jimmy Graham Traded to the Seahawks: What Does it Mean for Each Team?

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Jimmy Graham Observing the Action Jimmy Graham Observing the Action Football Schedule Flickr Page

The NFL's new year has not even officially begun and fireworks are going off around the league with transactions including some of the premier players in the league. There is no bigger trade than the one being finalized between the Saints and the Seahawks. According to Jay Glazer, the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints have agreed in principle to trade Jimmy Graham and a 4th round pick to the Saints in exchange for Max Unger and a 2015 first-round pick. 

This trade certainly came out of left field. If you recall the Saints just agreed to a four-year/$40 million contract extension with Graham last offseason, and Graham was the teams most productive receiving option over the last few seasons.

Seattle Perspective

From the Seahawks perspective they acquire the thing they needed most, a bonafide no. 1 receiving option in their offense, and with the acquisition of Graham they get exactly that.

Over the last three seasons there arguably not been a more dominant player in the NFL than Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. For comparison's sake I wanted to look at the production between the two premier tight ends in the NFL, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski.

 

Graham

TA

Rec.

% Ct

Yds

Yds / Rec.

YAC

YAC / Rec.

LG

TD

2012

131

85

64.9

982

11.6

310

3.6

46

9

2013

145

90

62.1

1267

14.1

433

4.8

56

16

2014

121

85

70.2

889

10.5

292

3.4

29

10

 

397

260

65.73

3138

12.07

1035

3.98

 

35

Gronkowski

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012

78

55

70.5

790

14.4

311

5.7

41

11

2013

64

39

60.9

592

15.2

198

5.1

50

4

2014

152

98

64.5

1328

13.6

535

5.5

46

15

 

294

192

65.3

2710

14.11

1044

5.4375

 

30

As you can see by the chart Graham has been an terror for opposing defenses to try and contain. The statistics are skewed slightly towards Graham due to the various injuries Gronkowski has dealt with, something Graham has been able to avoid at this point in his career.

The biggest improvement that Graham will bring to the Seahawks offense is Graham's ability to stretch defenses down the middle of the field. Over the last three seasons Graham has averaged over 12 yards-per-reception, an absurd number for a tight end. 

Looking at the history of the Seahawks wide receivers it is clear that Wilson has never had a receiver with the talent that Graham possesses. Over the last three season the only player on the Seahawks roster to amass 90 targets was Golden Tate, who signed with the Detroit Lions last offseason. 

Graham's playmaking ability in the red zone is not only going to help the Seahawks passing attack, but should help Marshawn Lynch and the running game open. Due to Graham's ability to get up the seam and attack defenses vertically defenses are going to be forced to play a lot of nickel packages (5 DB's) in order to attempt to match up in coverage. The downside of these substitutions for defenses is that the Seahawks offensive line is going to have more space to get up to the linebackers allowing Marshawn Lynch one-on-one match-ups against defensive backs, a match-up Lynch will win more times than not. 

Saints Perspective

It is never easy to replace a talented player that accounted for over 3,100 receiveig yards over the last three season, but it was a move that the Saints needed to make.

Prior to the offseason beginning the Saints cap situation was a mess, as the team needed  to clear $20 million in cap space just to be within the leagues threshold.

By trading Graham the Saints cap space is now in a place where they can make some move too address their needs. With the acquisition of Max Unger the Saints get one of the best young centers in football, but also acquire a first-round pick in the 2015 draft.

It is safe to assume that the Saints offense is going to transition form one of the most pass happy offenses in the leauge, to one that is centered around a strong offensive line and running game. Pro Football Focus has graded Unger as +36.7 over the last three seasons, including a +36.8 rating in the run game.  

In the trade the Saints also acquired the Seahawks first-round pick in the upcoming draft. This may not seem like a lot since the Seahawks are picking 31st overall, for the Saints it is very important.

The Saints currently hold the 13th and 31st overall picks in the 2015 NFL Draft and have several needs to fill along the defensive side of the ball. With two first round picks the Saints would be in position to acquire a pass rusher like Alvin Dupree (Kentucky), a nose tackle like Danny Shelton (Washington), or even a cornerback (Peters, Waynes, Darby). If the Saints were able to land any of these players I mentioned it would go along way towards revamping one of the leagues worst defenses.  

Conclusion

Despite the big price tag for each team I consider the trade a win-win for each team. For Seattle, they fill a serious need at the tight end position, as well as a player that can step in and be the focal point of their passing game.

For the Saints the impact that Max Unger has may not show up directly in the box score, but trust me it will be major. Since being drafted Unger has consistently been graded as one of the best centers in football. There is injury concern with Unger, but in my opinion the risk is well worth the reward.

For Seattle not only do they fill a serious need in tight end, but they also get a player that can step in and be the focal point of their passing game. It is no secret that the Seahawks receivers are a below-average unit, and the addition of Graham should not only help improve their offense between the 20’s, but their red zone efficiency as well.

Like I said earlier this trade looks like a win-win for both sides. The Seahawks finally have a guy they can gameplan there passing game around, and the Saints gain assets while repair one of the worst cap situations in recent memory.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 16 April 2015 13:41

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