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Meet Max Unger: Introducing the Saints New Center Acquired in the Jimmy Graham Trade

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Sep 22, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks center Max Unger (60) stands on the sideline during the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Who is this Max Unger fellow the New Orleans Saints acquired via the blockbuster trade that sent All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for their starting center and the No. 31 overall selection?

Maxwell McCandless Unger was born April 14, 1986 in the small town of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.  He prepped at Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Kamuela before taking his talents to the collegiate level to play football at the University of Oregon.

During his time in the Pacific Northwest, Max Unger was named a First-team All-American (2008) and was a two-time First-team All-Pac 10 selection, starting all four years on the line under Chip Kelly (offensive coordinator at the time) and his high-powered Ducks.

Following his senior year, the Saints’ new center was selected by the Seahawks with the No. 49 overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.  In Seattle, Unger would flourish, soon becoming a team captain, a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2012-13), a two-time NFC Champion, and of course, a world champion after Seattle blew away the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The 6-foot-5 center would face his fair share of injury issues though.  He played in just six regular season games in 2014.  However, he did make a return for the postseason, playing in the Seahawks last-second Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.

Aside from the issues he faced in 2014, Max Unger would only miss four games in the three years prior.  2010 was his biggest let-down — he was put on season-ending injured reserve after suffering a toe injury during Seattle’s first contest of the regular season.  But let’s face it, professional football is a brutal sport, and most players will face setbacks at one point or another during their career.

Number-retiring ceremony in honor of Max Unger at Hawaii Preparatory Academy:

What does Unger bring to the table for the New Orleans Saints?  He brings passion, a motor and solid interior protection for the Black and Gold’s aging quarterback, Drew Brees.

The Saints’ offensive line was far from conventional in 2014 — Brees’ production is vital for the team’s success and that guardianship that he’s been so blessed with in the past was missing in action for the majority of the season, leading to bad reads, poor decision making and an uncharacteristically high amount of turnovers.

Max Unger is an immediate upgrade from centers Jonathan Goodwin and Tim Lelito, who may just make the switch to guard.  While Saints fans may be questioning the decision to trade Jimmy Graham, remember, Brees is illustrious for making the players around him better.  He’ll need a solid offensive line to do that.  The Saints may now be able to focus on an all-out defensive approach in the upcoming draft.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Sean Payton‘s offense runs with Unger at center.  The move was indeed mind-boggling, but grab your popcorn — the NFL free agent frenzy has only just begun.

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