Jimmy Graham trade? Here’s my opinion…
Saints fans, taking to Twitter, fan sites and other social media, are up in arms.
“How can they trade Jimmy Graham?” is the stock post.
That was my gut reaction, too.
And then I thought about it.
It very well might turn out to be an awful move. But, on second thought, it might not be. Depends on what happens next.
Here’s what we know now: The Saints got one of the league’s best centers, Max Unger, a two-time Pro Bowler who at 28 is the same age as Graham. They got the Seahawks’ first round draft choice, which now gives them two first rounders. They gave up Graham and a fourth rounder. They unloaded a huge salary and took on a much smaller one.
Yes, they traded one of the best pass receiving tight ends in the business. But they also dealt away a tight end who was a reluctant blocker and whose receiving numbers dropped considerably this past season. Injuries played a role in that, but some Saints insiders question Graham’s toughness in playing through the injuries.
The Saints seriously upgraded their interior offensive line with one of the best centers in the sport.
General manager Mickey Loomis has indicated that he will use the money saved from Graham’s huge salary to upgrade the Saints defense. We shall see. That’s a must.
Loomis and Sean Payton were clear at season’s end that they weren’t going to stand pat after a 7-9 regular season. Clearly, they are not.
They need to make these two first round draft picks count.
They must use the bulk of Graham’s salary to fill some holes on defense.
The offense still has enough weapons to move the football, especially if Unger makes as big an impact on the Saints running game as he did on Seattle’s. (Unger missed several games with injuries this past season. The Seahawks rushed the ball for 30 yards more per game with him than without him.)
Generally speaking, fans undervalue centers, who you only notice when they get called for holding or snap one over the quarterback’s head. But center is one of the key positions on the football field. The center makes all the blocking calls. He starts every offensive play. No, he doesn’t score touchdowns, but nobody scores many touchdowns without an effective center.
Here’s where I stand on the unpopular (with Saints fans) trade of Jimmy Graham.
The jury is out. The evidence is far from in.
Several factors are yet to be determined.
Whatever else you say about it, you can say this: It was bold.