Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham likely to hit free agent market

Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks face tough decisions with some core defensive guys, and tight end Jimmy Graham may be gone too.

A disappointing non-playoff season will bring winds of offseason change for the Seattle Seahawks. Some key defensive players carry significant salary cap hits for 2018, and neck injuries may force safety Kam Chancellor and defensive end Cliff Avril into retirement.

Seattle has 15 players who can become unrestricted free agents in March. That’s a good amount of potential roster turnover, without decisions to make on Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, but one offensive player is all but sure to hit the free agent market.

In his examination of the Seahawks’ looming free agents, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times suggests tight end Jimmy Graham is “really unlikely” to be back with the team.

Graham finished tied for second in the league with 10 receiving touchdowns this season. But his catch (57) and yardage (520) totals dropped from 2016 (65 and 923), as he averaged a dismal 9.1 yards per catch.

Upon being acquired from the New Orleans Saints for center Max Unger, Graham was an odd fit with the Seahawks and what was initially a run-based offense. A torn patella tendon in his right knee shortened his first season with the team in 2015, but Graham was healthy in time for the following season and he has played all 16 games in each of the last two seasons.

Graham’s decline in overall production could be due to age (31), the lingering effects of his significant 2015 knee injury or simple misuse by the Seahawks. But plenty of teams will think the New Orleans Saints version of Graham is still in there somewhere ready to be re-unleashed, even in fleeting moments over a short window of remaining theoretical peak years.

Graham is close friends with quarterback Russell Wilson, which may ultimately foster a return to the Seahawks. But it makes sense for Graham to test the market, and it’s very likely Seattle won’t be willing or able to compete.

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