Reviewing The Saints’ Jimmy Graham Trade, Now
On March 10, 2015, the New Orleans Saints traded tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks, in exchange for center Max Unger and a first-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.
At the time, the trade was viewed as a blockbuster, and with good reason. Graham was a 3-time Pro Bowler with the Saints, putting up monster numbers, while Unger was named to the Pro Bowl twice during his time in Seattle, and there was also a first-round draft choice involved.
That draft choice turned out to be Stephone Anthony, who the Saints traded to the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday for a 5th-round draft selection in 2018.
While all of the parties involved have had their respective moments, looking at the trade now, it was a little overblown.
Check that, it was a lot overblown.
Graham, who, from 2011-2014, had 4-consecutive seasons with at least 80 receptions and 9 touchdowns with the Saints, has not had the same success with the Seahawks.
Now to be fair to Graham, he went from a passing team to a running team, and he did make the Pro Bowl in 2016, but he's no longer considered to be a possible future Hall of Famer, like many were predicting in New Orleans.
And that's not a stretch. Call it "the system", or say that Drew Brees has a lot to do with it. You could try to minimize Graham's time in New Orleans all you want, but the bottom line remains that he was putting up some incredible numbers for a tight end.
And yes, he was/is a tight end. That was one of the reasons he was traded in the first place. Remember?
Let's put it this way, during his time with the Seahawks, which would be a possible 34 games (he was injured for 5 in 2015), Graham has caught 117 passes for 1,537 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Over his 5 seasons with the Saints, Graham averaged 77 catches-per-season, to go along with 950 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns.
By comparison, Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow averaged 60 catches, 749 yards, and 5 touchdown catches a season from 1979-1987 with the San Diego Chargers.
The man was a complete beast in New Orleans.
When healthy, Graham has had some success, but he also hasn't come close to matching his production in Seattle that he did in New Orleans, and I think it's safe to say he's been a little bit of a disappointment.
Unger has certainly been solid for the Saints. He's played in 33 of a possible 34 games, and has been a mainstay on the Saints' offensive line.
That being said, Unger also hasn't played at the same level with the Saints that he did with the Seahawks, where he was an elite center in 2012 and 2013.
Anthony, after the Saints selected him with their second of two first-round picks in 2015, went on to lead the defense in tackles with 112 during his rookie season.
2016 saw Anthony take a step back however, as he moved from middle linebacker to the strong side, and saw his playing time greatly diminish.
In 10 games, including only 3 starts in 2016, Anthony totaled just 16 tackles.
Anthony did not play in either of the Saints' first two regular season games, before being traded on Tuesday.
Now, Graham and Unger could easily both put together some quality seasons, and maybe whoever the Saints take with that extra 5th round pick in 2018 will turn into a Pro Bowler. But so far, the Saints/Seahawks 2015 trade has turned out to be more splash than substance.
Really, what it has turned out to be, is a solid tight end traded for a solid center.
Nothing wrong with solid tight ends and/or solid centers. It's just that a trade between the two, along with a first-round pick that never materialized, at least long term, seldom gets the coverage and talk that this one got.
Maybe that's on the media for making too much of that trade, and for fans, such as me, for maybe having unrealistic expectations.
Again, all the players involved have had some moments, but the trade has been far from the "blockbuster" many said it was, or thought it could be.