As Antonio Gates and his dual-sport magnificence began to subside and Tony Gonzalez ran out of passing records to shatter and decided to pick up a journalist mic, Jimmy Graham, another basketball dude turned NFL receiving titan, began his run as the game’s elite tight end, averaging 88.7 catches a year from 2011-14 as one of Deadly Drew Brees’ pigskin pythons.
Despite scoring 10 TDs, his yards-per-catch average was the lowest of his career (10.5) in 2014 as he battled a bad shoulder throughout the season. Graham was still considered a Top 3 tight end, however, when Seattle landed Graham in a trade that was more about money than anything else.
Russell Wilson needed a supreme aerial weapon and New Orleans wasn’t mad at letting a high-priced talent impress his financial desires on another team.
The Seahawks organization was hyped when Graham arrived, as he would provide Wilson with that go-to receiver he has lacked the past few seasons. As a Pro Bowl member of the Saints, Graham became a prolific pigskin-snatcher and the favorite target of Brees in only his second NFL season with 99 catches for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns.
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"This is an offensive weapon that we're adding," Seattle general manager John Schneider said at the time of the trade. "A guy that is a big-time difference maker at his position. Obviously a top two or three tight end in the league."
The high expectations that preceded Graham’s arrival took a hit when Wilson’s fresh, new target underwent surgery for a torn right patellar tendon and only played 11 games in 2015. Seattle was forced into the playoffs without WIlson's most valuable weapon.
Entering this season, there was even some concern that Graham would lose a step after the surgery.
On the contrary.
Graham looks healthier than he’s been in years and his performance is representing that. He caught six passes for 94 yards and two TDs in the first half alone in Seattle's 31-25 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night. Graham's 102 receiving yards was his third time passing the century mark this season and he caught all eight targets that came his way from Wilson who threw for 282 yards.
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Wilson hasn’t been the same QB since Pete Carroll called that play in the Super Bowl. It's a play that now falls second to Donald Trump's rise to the presidency as far as the most unfathomable calls in America over the past decade.
He seems to be finally putting it all back together and it's no coincidence his improved play coincides with Graham's rebirth as a terror threat. RW's 137.0 passer rating was his highest of the season and he threw for multiple TDs for just the second time this year.
Graham gets into the endzone, which is something Seattle has struggled with at times since winning the ch'ip three seasons ago. Graham was really showing out on Monday night; snagging a couple of fancy one-handed catches, and hurdling a defender just to let folks know he's in the building and reclaiming his spot as a pass-snatching superstar.
With Graham playing impactful ball again, expect Wilson's QB swag to improve and Seattle to seriously climb back into Super Bowl contention this season.