Wow! Didn’t see that one coming.
But, then again, maybe we should have.
Ever since last summer when Jimmy Graham lost his arbitration hearing to be declared a wide receiver instead of a tight end, something seemed a little off about his demeanor.
It was nothing you could put your finger on, but Graham never seemed particularly happy – about having to go against his team for which he had developed from an unknown third-rounder with a scanty playing history to being regarded as the best player at his position precisely because of his hybrid skills, about Drew Brees once indicating he was ready to move on if things didn’t work out and who knows what else went on behind closed doors at 5800 Airline Highway.
Graham certainly wasn’t himself down the stretch last season– one touchdown reception in the last five games – due to a sore shoulder. Pro Football Focus rated him only 11th among the all tight ends.
What also is certain now is that when General Manager Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton were not giving lip service when they about being disappointed in locker room leadership last season, although cutting ties with Curtis Lofton and Pierre Thomas may have had more to do with economics.
So, instead of an All-Pro tight end, the Saints have a two-time Pro Bowl center, in the prime of his career at age 28 and costing only a cap-friendly $4.5 million in 2015.
It also shores a key component of the Saints’ offense – protecting Brees up the middle. That element was sorely lacking last year.
It also helps the Saints’ commitment to the running game along with the retaining of Mark Ingram.
The Saints also get the Seahawks’ first-round draft pick, although at No. 31 how much impact it brings depends on a personnel department that mostly whiffed last season.
As for Jimmy Graham, he goes to a team that came within completing a one-yard pass of wining a second straight Super Bowl last year. Think if the situation comes up again Russell Wilson will be looking for No. 80?
And Graham’s new team now certainly seems a lot closer to the Super Bowl than his old one.
But maybe lowered expectations are this franchise needs.