Saints GM Mickey Loomis knows offseason moves do not matter unless team wins _lowres

Seattle Seahawks center Max Unger (60) talks with head coach Pete Carroll before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Carolina Panthers in Seattle, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Seattle Seahawks were able to rush for the third-most yards in NFL history last season without having two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger for 10 of their 16 regular-season games.

And that probably rendered Unger expendable in Tuesday’s trade that brought him and a first-round draft pick to the New Orleans Saints for tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round choice.

“We would like to thank Max for his leadership and the role he has played in helping establish our current championship culture,” Seahawks Executive VP/General Manager John Schneider said in a news release.

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin tweeted, “this one is a hard pill to swallow. A great player, a great teammate and a great man. Thank you Max Unger for everything!”

Unger, a six-year veteran who was Seattle’s 2009 second-round pick out of Oregon, where he was a teammate of Saints safety Jairus Byrd, Unger was one of just three players left from the pre-Pete Carroll era in Seattle.

A first-team All-Pro in 2012, Unger signed a five-year, $25.8 million contract extension before that season, which made him one of the highest-paid centers in the NFL.

He is generally regarded as one of the top three players at his position in the league. But this season he suffered a severe ankle injury that sidelined him for the majority of the regular season, including a victory over Arizona when the Seahawks gained a franchise-record 596 yards.

Unger did return in time to start all three of Seattle’s postseason games — including Super Bowl XLIX, when the Seahawks chose to pass from the 1-yard line in the final minute instead of running Marshawn Lynch behind Unger, yielding an interception that sealed Seattle’s 28-24 loss to New England.