I suspect there’s a mastermind accountant sequestered in the basement of the Seattle Seahawks’ headquarters, wearing one of those green visors, pounding frantically on an adding machine, surrounded by massive piles of spread sheets and calculations.
Or maybe it’s one of Paul Allen’s decommissioned computer whizzes, now putting his mind to creating software to amortize tackles, depreciate linebackers, and continually fund contracts to keep or acquire elite talents.
How else could the Seahawks extend and mollify Marshawn Lynch, pay three secondary stars at or near the top of their positions leaguewide, presumably have funds tucked away to secure Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, and then go out and land a true game-changing tight end in Jimmy Graham?
More remarkable than the numbers juggling, though, is the brilliant audacity of general manager John Schneider, who always heads directly to the top shelf when he hits the market, because the move for Graham seems like an unattainable reach.
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After cutting oft-injured Zach Miller, Schneider needed a starting tight end. There wasn’t much point in calling the Patriots and asking about Rob Gronkowski. But the best tight end anybody could conceivably pry loose from his current employer had to be Graham, a three-time Pro Bowl player and the league’s highest-paid at his position.
Graham is not only a game-changing talent, but he also addresses two main Seattle needs: a big receiving threat, and a versatile tight end. The significance of this move, on the first day of dealing, is such that the Seahawks might already have “won” the offseason.
Super Bowl champ New England, in the first day, meanwhile, cut three key veterans from their defense, Darrelle Revis, Vince Wilfork and Brandon Browner.
The Hawks, in contrast, landed Graham and presumptive starting cornerback Cary Williams.
As coach Pete Carroll said in an interview Tuesday, “We are not going to sit around.”
Well, Schneider might be sitting, but I doubt he’s ever off the phone.
On Tuesday, he sent former Pro Bowl center Max Unger and this year’s first-round draft pick (31st overall) to New Orleans for Graham and a fourth-round pick.
Losing Unger, after allowing guard James Carpenter to leave via free agency, leaves the Seahawks weaker in their weakest unit, the offensive line. Both had dealt with injury issues. Unger, though, was so important as a veteran whose intelligence up front was key to the Seahawks being able to adjust their schemes when circumstances dictated.
But the 6-foot-7 Graham has averaged 89 receptions in the past four seasons, and scored 46 touchdowns in that span. Two years ago, he averaged 14 yards per reception. Those are wide receiver numbers, folks.
No other tight end they could have landed would have been a better complement to holdover receivers such as Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, or quarterback Russell Wilson, or the rushing attack.
The last Schneider move this nervy was two years ago, when he traded for receiver/returner Percy Harvin, another big-ticket risk. Harvin was injured one year, and his sour attitude caused him to be unloaded the next.
While the move was a bomb for the Seahawks, it’s a cautionary tale for Graham and anybody else who joins the roster.
Play nice with the other kids, and buy into the process, or you might get traded to the Jets.
Another difference with the addition of Graham is that the Seahawks won’t have to retool the scheme that focuses on the rushing of Lynch and the mobility of Wilson. The past two offseasons involved the reshaping of the offense to suit Harvin.
Plugging in Graham involves little more than dropping back, looking for the tall guy, and chucking him a pass over everybody else’s heads.
The Seahawks have not had a receiver who forces defenses to scheme in their direction. Graham forces double-teams, which will only help open the middle for the rushing game, and create openings for other receivers.
Carroll said the other day that by the time he talked to Graham, Wilson already had contacted the new Seahawk to find time when they could start working out together.
Wilson might have mentioned to Graham that Seahawks tight ends caught zero passes in the Super Bowl.
You don’t have to get too creative to find ways Graham would have changed that.
And from Wilson’s perspective, imagine how appealing that 6-foot-7 tight end will look as a target the next time they get to the 1-yard line in a big game.