How big a deal is Jimmy Graham's arrival in Seattle?
Seahawks owner Paul Allen, not usually one to get into the procedural nuances of player transactions while he's out unearthing sunken battleships off ocean floors, last night trumpeted the team's next step in completing Tuesday's stunning trade that brought the three-time Pro Bowl and 2013 All-Pro tight end to the two-time defending NFC champions:
I'm going to assume (always dangerous makes a you-know-what out of u and me) Graham didn't fly himself to Renton yesterday -- as he had to the gulf coast of Florida the day before. Him being a business major with a double major in marketing and management from the University of Miami and a license to pilot, too, leads off my story for today's News Tribune. The buzz remains over the coup the Seahawks pulled to get him from New Orleans to massively upgrade what was a barren position.
Unger was at home in Hawaii when the trade happened, so it's taking him a couple extra days to get to New Orleans to complete his physical that will make the trade complete. Seahawks general manager John Schneider said yesterday on Seattle's 710 ESPN radio that Unger's exam should be done within a week to officially complete the trade.
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My story in today's paper includes the news the Seahawks are hosting Oakland center-guard Stefen Wisniewski for a free-agent visit. What makes him intriguing is his youth -- he's 25 -- and his versatility. Wisniewski, whose his father Leo played four seasons for the Colts at nose tackle and whose uncle Steve was an eight-time Pro Bowl guard with the Raiders, has played guard at Penn State and as a rookie second-round pick in 2011 for Oakland then for the last three seasons at center. He is a candidate to replace Max Unger, the Seahawks center whom they just traded to the Saints to get Graham, and could also be the left guard to replace James Carpenter. Carpenter agreed to a four-year, $19 million, free-agent deal with the Jets this week.
Seahawks line coach Tom Cable's philosophy is to collect as many versatile and interchangeable players as he can get to serve the many needs that come up on an offense in any season. Wisniewski would fit that philosophy -- and perhaps fill two needs with one player.
Unger missed 13 games the last two seasons. Wisniewski has missed three in his four NFL seasons combined.
--TNT columnist Dave Boling asks this question in today's paper that might grab the attention of a person or two to ponder: Think Jimmy Graham looks appealing on a pass from the 1-yard line?
GM Schneider has been asked twice in the previous two days if the final offensive play of the Seahawks' Super Bowl last month and chronic failures scoring touchdowns on goal-to-go plays last season (Seattle was 29th out of 32 teams doing that in 2014) is why they got Graham. Turns out Schneider and the team began targeting tight end as their primary priority for free agency back in December during meetings on the upcoming market in Arizona before the regular-season game at the Cardinals. Then when the Saints threw Graham's name in a routine phone conversation Saturday between Schneider and New Orleans GM Mickey Loomis, the Seahawks pounced. And scored, big time.
--The late Dave Goldberg was one of the most accomplished yet demurring about what he's done professionals I've ever had the privilege to work alongside. He was my mentor at games and over the phone from New York, an invaluable teammate on NFL coverage for the Associated Press from the Seahawks' first Super Bowl season of 2005 through 2009 when Dave took a generous buyout from the AP. The AP's deadlines are now -- as in, five minutes ago. Yet invariably when I would check in my story with the national desk in New York Dave would get on the line and chat my ear off about Shaun Alexander running out of bounds or Matt Hasselbeck's funny quips. All I wanted to do was get off the phone and get the damn story onto the wire so my editors would get off my back.
I miss those chats with Dave.
Bryan Curtis of Grantland nails the essence of Goldberg with this fantastic portrait. Please read it.
Curtis describes how influential and respected Dave was inside the top tier of NFL hierarchy -- yet how anonymous he was, because of how newspapers routinely strip bylines off AP writers' stories and, especially in Dave's case, steal scoops off the wire as their own. Bravo Bryan Curtis, to whom I've personally reached out to tell. Thank you not only for writing about Dave's great career but doing it so exquisitely.
Enjoy Thursday. Let's see what it brings next.