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How The Seahawks' Big Move Will Pay Off Next Season

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham (80) scores a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half of a Monday Night Football game, Dec. 2, 2013, in Seattle.

The Seahawks sent shockwaves through the NFL this week with their big trade with the New Orleans Saints: giving up center Max Unger and their first round draft pick for tight end Jimmy Graham.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says it was a bold move that will pay off big time.

'Not Shying Away'

Art says the Seahawks' devastating loss in the Super Bowl and their controversial trade of star player Percy Harvin last season "could’ve intimidated a lesser team into being a little more careful."

"But in this case the Seahawks really demonstrated the boldness necessary to keep a team at an elite level," he said.

“I think they did well, just from the standpoint of being aggressive in the marketplace. It was a trade, not a free agent signing but it was still a blockbuster that shocked the NFL.”

What Graham Brings To The Seahawks

According to Art, Graham fills a big void on the Seahawks.

“Jimmy Graham is the big target that Russell Wilson has never had in his three-year tenure.

“He’s 6’7’’, 260 lbs. and he’s caught more passes in his five years than all of the Seahawk tight ends employed over that same period," Art points out.

Graham: Big Target = Big Protection

“The key part of it is that Graham is so good, he lines up at wide receiver as much or even more than he lines up at tight end. And that’s significant because he becomes a matchup problem for all defenses.

“They almost always have to double-team him because he’s too big for the defensive backs and too swift for linebackers to cover him," Art said.

“That’s a real asset, a rare asset. That’s why the Seahawks decided they would give up a very valuable player in Max Unger.”

Unger Will Be Missed

"Unger was the heartbeat of the offensive line, well respected as a team leader and a very competent pro," Art said.

"But he’s had some injury problems in the last couple years. And he had a very high salary relative to his contribution.

"That’s another aspect of this deal," Art continued. "The Seahawks aren’t going to be taking on a burdensome contract in Graham because they’re getting rid of one in Max Unger.

“That works out well from the standpoint of finances and I think it works out real well in terms of the competitive edge.

"The Seahawks have never had someone of Graham’s caliber catching passes for Wilson.”

Busy Offseason

The Seahawks have also added two cornerbacks, Cary Williams from Philadelphia and Will Blackmon from Jacksonville.

Art says they will fill the void left by Byron Maxwell’s departure in free agency as well as some injuries to the secondary.

BeastMode Back For 2015

Perhaps the most thrilling news for Seahawks fans this offseason running back Marshawn Lynch is secured for the 2015 season. The deal was announced Friday, March 6.

“They’re paying him $12 million for 2015," Art said. "And they have a handshake agreement for 2016 and 2017 – there’s no guaranteed money; nothing is obliging either party. But this year, the big deal is that Marshawn is getting a $5-million raise. He’s happy about it."

“And he was thrilled that Paul Allen, the owner of the team, came all the way from the Philippines in his private jet to close the deal," Art added. "Marshawn thought that was a pretty big deal – and it was.

“Now, Allen’s back looking for sunken Japanese destroyers and Marshawn is back trying to sink opposing teams next fall.”


You can find Art Thiel’s work at Sportspress Northwestand

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.