Jimmy Graham will still make bank in 2018. Should it be for the Seahawks?

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Luke Willson

SEATTLE, WA – OCTOBER 1: Tight end Luke Willson #82 of the Seattle Seahawks spikes the ball as he celebrates his touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on October 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images)

Is Jimmy Graham the right choice for the Seahawks?

Jimmy Graham made a cool $10 mil in 2017. The Seahawks are in such dire straights regarding the salary cap, there’s a lot of noise they’ll move Michael Bennett. When you’re considering trading your most consistent defensive end despite the fact your other starting end’s career may be over, you have serious cap issues. It simply makes more sense for the Seahawks to let Graham walk than to trade Bennett. Of course, they may do both.

With the recent coaching changes, it’s obvious Seattle is going to emphasize defense and the running game more than in the past few years. That’s a pretty strong clue that a pass-catching specialist that doesn’t block particularly well will be allowed to leave.

Pro Football Focus ranked Jimmy Graham 33rd in the league for 2017. I’m not prepared to say that’s right, or even makes sense. But, does anyone think he’s close to Rob Gronkowski? Or Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz? Graham is getting paid like those guys, but doesn’t have their all-around game. He’s certainly hasn’t been paid like the 33rd best tight end in the league. For the money the Seahawks paid, he’s been anything but a bargain.

Seattle already has a bargain on the roster

Graham won’t see $10 million a year this time around, not unless some GM is crazy – and there’s no shortage of those. Brock Osweiler, anyone? Regardless, even if Graham signs for $7 million, the Seahawks have more pressing needs. As for alternatives? Luke Willson isn’t exactly Gronk either, but he caught a higher percentage of targets than Graham every year they’ve played together. Willson also caught four touchdowns last year on just 15 receptions, a far higher rate than Graham. Willson is an unrestricted free agent too, but he’s coming off a $1.8 million dollar contract. That’s a lot more affordable for a player that fits the system better.

Is Luke Willson necessarily the answer? Not really; there is this little thing coming up called the draft. But Willson certainly fits the Seahawks future (and past) scheme better than Jimmy Graham. Graham’s stay was frustrating at times, exhilarating a lot more often, but I believe it’s over.

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