Seahawks 2018 outlook: Should Seattle re-sign Jimmy Graham?

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 20: Tight end Jimmy Graham (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 20: Tight end Jimmy Graham (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

Jimmy Graham caught ten touchdown passes for the Seahawks in 2017. This was his best season in Seattle in that category. Do the rest of his statistics merit Seattle re-signing him?

Jimmy Graham, future Hall of Fame tight end, may have spent his final season with the Seahawks. Graham had his best season catching touchdown passes in Seattle with ten. He was second in the league in doing so. But the rest of Graham’s numbers are rot.

This may not be Graham’s fault. Personally, people like him and he is universally seen as a nice guy. On the field, he has been productive for most of his career with touchdowns, receptions and yards. During his time with the New Orleans Saints, he may have been the best tight end in the NFL. And even with Seattle, he hasn’t been too bad.

And really, the fault of his diminished value may not be him but in how he has been used. Darrell Bevell, let’s be honest, has no idea what to do with a tight end of Graham’s skill set. Seattle had no business trading for him in the first place. It hasn’t worked out for the team or the player.

Diminished value

And Graham does have diminished value with Seattle. The Jimmy has been with the Seahawks for three years. In that time he has caught 18 touchdown passes, something he was brought to Seattle to do. 18 is two more than Graham caught in his 2013 year in New Orleans. Graham’s 18 is 26 percent of his career total. He caught 51 with New Orleans in five seasons, and that includes his rookie year when he was still learning the position.

Graham also isn’t a blocker and he never should should have been asked to be one. It was like Seattle trying to hit a thin round nail with a square hammer. Graham did his best, but he was never going to be truly successful in the run scheme. Can you blame him really? None of Seattle’s real offensive linemen are good at run blocking.

Bevell’s use of Graham

I still blame offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for how Jimmy Graham has been used. In the first two years with Seattle the question was, “How can Graham be more involved in the red zone?” The tight end had a bad 2015. But he was good in 2016, just not in the red zone. Graham had his highest yards-per-catch (14.2) of his career in 2016.

But this season, Bevell seems to have only known how to get Graham the ball within the opponents 20 yard-line. Graham had his fewest yards receiving (520) since his rookie year. His average yards-per-catch (9.1) was pitiful. His catch rate was a bit below 58 percent. This was 26th among all tight ends.

So, yeah…Graham did have seven drops in 2017, which tied for second in the league. Not all of Graham’s fault are the Seahawks’. Graham is far too talented to drop so many passes.

Graham made $10 million in 2017. He will turn 32 during the 2018 season. The Seahawks have bigger needs at other positions than paying a tight end that cannot block eight figures next year and beyond. Luke Willson has been decent enough to bring back at something close to the $1.8 million he made this season. Nick Vannett seemed to be settling in a bit this year and is signed through 2019 at less than $1 million per season.

Will the Seahawks get as much receiving production out of its tight end group next year without Graham? No. But it should get far better run blocking. And if Bevell is gone (which he won’t be, but if…), Seattle will probably have an offensive coordinator with a better imagination to get the running backs and wide receivers more production when Russell Wilson drops back to throw the ball.

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Should Seattle bring back Jimmy Graham next year? No. And that is better for team and player.