The craziest New Orleans Saints offseason stories: No. 2, The Jimmy Graham trade
By John Hendrix
There’s no denying that this New Orleans Saints offseason left a very lasting impression on the football world. Arguably, it was the most taxing offseason since Bounty Gate. We’re nearing the end of our mini-series that focuses on the five biggest and most shocking storylines from the past several months. We kicked things off with the Pierre Thomas release, revisited the Keenan Lewis outburst, and then recently talked about the Benson family feud. Today, we focus on the Jimmy Graham trade.
The Jimmy Graham trade
Nov 9, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) celebrates after a first down against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints found a true diamond in the rough when they used their 95th overall selection in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft to nab the Miami Hurricanes tight end. We are familiar the back story, as Graham primarily played basketball from 2005-2009, and played football for one season while taking graduate classes.
Coming out of college, Graham didn’t produce flashy stats. He had 17 receptions for 213 yards, and added five touchdowns for the Hurricanes offense. However, the scouting reports and intrigue was there for Graham. With the New Orleans Saints facing injuries and aging presence at the tight end group, the team felt it necessary to draft Graham.
Graham impressed early in training camp, and was poised to develop with then starter Jeremy Shockey as a mentor. By the end of 2010, it was clear that Graham was going to be the future. During 2011, Graham was spectacular and then some. He continued to play well for the next several years, especially showing his grit while playing through injuries, and was easily a fan favorite. Graham made the Pro Bowl three times (2011, 2013, 2014), was an All-Pro, and ranked in the NFL’s Top 100 players three separate times.
After five years of ‘Graham Slams’, the Saints offense opted to go in a completely different direction. The unthinkable shocked the football world on March 10, 2015 when the Saints front office announced that they were trading Graham and a fourth round pick to the Seattle Seahawks. In exchange, the Saints received center Max Unger and the Seahawks 31st overall pick in the first round.
After last year’s 7-9 finish, the last person that we thought would be traded away from the Saints was Jimmy Graham. After all, it was the Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham show the majority of the time on offense. Some believe that the Saints became way too predictable with Graham in the lineup, and as Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll pointed out recently, there appeared to be more to the story.
Either way you slice it, Jimmy Graham‘s departure from the Saints finds itself as the second most shocking and craziest storyline from this offseason.