A couple of questions about trades in our latest Seahawks Q-and-A.
OK, time to tackle a couple of Seahawks questions received via Twitter.
Q: @huskydawg92 asks: Time to trade jimmy?
A: I assume he means Graham, and I could have picked any one of about a dozen responders who asked varying versions of this question.
No doubt, Graham’s slow start — four catches for nine yards on nine targets in two games — is what has everyone (or many, at least) wondering if the Seahawks might be able to get something of value for Graham, who hasn’t made an impact for Seattle so far after an offseason in which Pete Carroll predicted he’d have a big season.
A few potential problems, though:
1, Graham apparently has an ankle injury of some sort that has it unclear if he can play this week. We’ll need to see if it’s really serious. But if it is even a two-week injury or so that would pretty much preclude an immediate trade;
2, Every other team also can read the stats and wonder what is going on with Graham;
3, Graham has a $10 million salary cap hit this season and just the rest of this year remaining on his contract, meaning any team taking him would take on the rest of that cap hit plus have no assurance of having Graham beyond this season.
In other words, his trade value is likely a lot less than fans might think it is and likely enough less that for the Seahawks it probably makes more sense to try to make it work with Graham — who as we’ve seen in games like the win over Buffalo last year can be the kind of game-changer that remains rare around the NFL — than deal him.
Unless, that is, the Seahawks decided that simply being rid of him is worth whatever they could get, as happened with Percy Harvin in 2014. As we quickly learned, though, there were a lot of extenuating circumstances surrounding the Harvin trade — the Seahawk coaches and organization had basically lost any faith and trust in him. That’s not the case with Graham, who came back from a significant injury in 2015 to turn in the best statistical season ever for a Seattle tight end in 2016.
We’ve seen enough with the Seahawks to never rule out anything, and if things continue to trend poorly then I guess you never know what might happen — the trade deadline this year is on Oct. 31, two days after Seattle plays its seventh game against Houston.
But given everything stated above it’s hard to figure Seattle would get a whole lot for Graham — recall how the Seahawks didn’t appear to get anything close to the first- and third-round picks they were asking for Richard Sherman in the offseason and he had two years left on his contract and plays a position that generally holds a greater value.
Again, never rule out anything when it comes to the Seahawks. But I’d temper expectations for what would come in return.
Q: @cougreed: Why don’t the Hawks approach a cellar dweller and offer two high picks for their best o-lineman?
A: First, a question back — are there really that many cellar dwellers that have offensive linemen that would be worth that (and yes, I know all about Joe Thomas — there remains no evidence that the Browns would trade him, or certainly are looking to just give him away, though maybe if the season goes sideways the Browns reconsider that as the trading deadline approaches)?
As we are seeing, all but about four teams or so probably are buyers rather than sellers when it comes to their offensive line — there just aren’t that many good offensive linemen to go around. And the teams that do have good lines aren’t playing for the future.
The time to really make a move for veteran OLs is in March during free agency or before the draft, and as we saw, the Seahawks tried to do some things they couldn’t pull off (T.J. Lang) and did sort of do what you suggest in signing Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi.
But even if there were a really good left tackle that could be had for two high future picks, that would go against Seattle’s general philosophy of wanting to be good now but doing so without mortgaging the future.
General manager John Schneider says anytime it comes up that his goal is to build a team that is competitive every year and not a team that “cruises in and cruises out.’’
I think they’d need to find what’s probably not available — a young, club-controllable elite OL — to make that kind of move.
I know some might point to the Graham trade as evidence that the Seahawks will give up draft picks, and to a lesser extent Harvin.
But it’s worth remembering each of trades those was made within a month of two of the draft when the Seahawks knew where they were picking and what they were likely to get and decided that what they’d get in a trade was better (Harvin was also only 24 and immediately signed to a long-term contract with the team viewing him at the time as a big part of the future. Graham also had three years remaining on his deal at the time and was 27 when the trade was made).
True, trades have been more plentiful this year. But it’s just not all that easy to solve offensive line issues via trade at this point of the season.