Ever the unpredictable swaggermen in the personnel bazaar, the Seahawks dropped a blockbuster on the NFL at the commencement of the new league year: TE Jimmy Graham was acquired from the cap-strapped New Orleans Saints for C Max Unger and Seattle’s first-round draft choice in April. The Seahawks also received the Saints’ fourth-round pick in the draft.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection is, at 6-7 and 260 pounds, the large, agile, proven target the Seahawks have lacked in QB Russell Wilson’s first three years. He has the most receiving yards in a tight end’s first five years in NFL history — 4,752, ahead of Kellen Winslow, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates.
Graham, 28, last year caught 85 passes for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns for a 7-9 Saints team that was burdened by the four-year, $40 million contract Graham signed last summer.
Unger, also 28, was the anchor of the Seahawks’ offensive line that helped lead the NFL in rushing. But he played only six regular-season games after an ankle injury as well as a concussion. The Seahawks also received solid play from backups Patrick Lewis and Lemuel Jeanpierre, although they could address the line in free agency.
The Seahawks also lost James Carpenter in free agency to the New York Jets, but he could be replaced by Alvin Bailey, who started three games in Carpenter’s absence.
Graham was a basketball player at the University of Miami. He played one year of football before becoming a third-round pick of the Saints in 2010.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and was a first team All-Pro pick in 2013, the year the Saints twice played the Seahawks, who shut him down. Graham and Seahawks LB Bruce Irvin were involved in an altercation.
LB Malcolm Smith signs with Raiders; Locker retires
Malcolm Smith, the Most Valuable Player in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win over Denver but unable to crack the starting lineup in Seattle, left in free agency for Oakland, where he was reunited with Ken Norton Jr., the Seahawks’ former linebackers coach who is now the Raiders’ defensive coordinator.
In non-Seahawks news, former Washington Huskies QB Jake Locker announced his retirement from football after four injury-pickled season in Tennessee, which picked him eighth overall in the 2011 draft.
“I am retiring from football after much reflection and discussion with my family,” Locker said in a statement. “I will always be grateful for having had the opportunity to realize my childhood dream of playing in the NFL and for the lifelong relationships I developed because of that experience.
“Football has always played a pivotal role in my life and I love the game, but I no longer have the burning desire necessary to play the game for a living; to continue to do so would be unfair to the next organization with whom I would eventually sign. I realize this decision is surprising to many, but I know in my heart that it is the right decision and I look forward to spending more time with my family and pursuing other interests.”
SEAHAWKS FREE AGENT TRACKER
Unrestricted Free Agents
|3/8||TE Anthony McCoy||Re-signed||One year; injured last 2 seasons|
|3/10||CB Byron Maxwell||Signed-Phil||6 years, $63 million: ($10.3 average)|
|3/10||LG James Carpenter||Signed-NYJ||4 years, $20 million|
|3/10||LB Malcolm Smith||Signed-Oak||Super Bowl XLVIII MVP|
Restricted Free Agents
|3/6||DE Greg Scruggs||Re-signed||Injured reserve last 2 years (knee)|
|3/9||LB Mike Morgan||Re-signed||Played in 53 games since 2011|
|3/9||WR Ricardo Lockette||Re-signed||11 catches, 2 TDs in ’14|
|3/9||CB DeShawn Shead||Re-signed||Played in 16 games with 1 start in ’14|
Extensions / Restructures / Cuts
|3/6||RB Marshawn Lynch||Extend.||3 years, $31 million; $12 million in 2015|
|3/6||TE Zach Miller||Cut||Played 3 games in ’14; had severe ankle injury|
|3/6||DT Jesse Williams||Cut||IR most of last 2 years with knee injuries|
|3/6||OT Garrett Scott||Cut||Waived due to a non-football heart condition|
Remaining Unrestricted Free Agents
|Kevin Williams||DT||34||$2,100,000||Candidate for 1-year deal|
|Jeron Johnson||S||26||$1,500,000||15 games in ’14, 1 start|
|Demarcus Dobbs||DE||27||$1,431,000||4 games in 2014, no starts|
|Tarvaris Jackson||QB||31||$1,250,000||Played in one game in 2014|
|Heath Farwell||ILB||33||$1,125,000||Retiring to coach|
|Clint Gresham||LS||28||$827,500||Played in all 16 games|
|Landon Cohen||DT||28||$730,000||Played in one playoff game|
|O’Brien Schofield||LB||27||$730,000||Played in every game in ’14|
|Will Tukuafu||FB||31||$645,000||Made 2 starts in 2014|
|Tony Moeaki||TE||27||$645,000||6 games, 2 starts in ’14|
|Lemuel Jeanpierre||C||27||$645,000||Played in 15 games in ’14|
|D’Anthony Smith||DT||26||$570,000||Practice-squad player|
|Bryan Walters||WR||27||$570,000||Was not tendered|
Remaining Restricted Free Agents
|Stephen Shilling||G||26||$645,000||Went on IR Nov. 10 (knee)|
|David Gilreath||WR||26||$495,000||Didn’t play in 2014|
|Jermaine Kearse||WR||25||$480,000||Winning TD in NFC Champ.|
Free Agents Signed
|3/9||Will Blackmon||CB||Jacksonville||12 starts for the Jaguars last 2 years|
|3/9||Cary Williams||CB||Philadelphia||Deal is 3 years, $18 million|
|3/10||Jimmy Graham||TE||New Orleans||Cost: C Max Unger, No. 1 pick|