No, the Seahawks aren’t trading Jimmy Graham.
Not after what he pulled off Sunday in Seattle’s crazy, 41-38, rally past the Houston Texans.
“Jimmy Graham is finally showing that he is still Jimmy Graham,” Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said of his 30-year-old teammate and much-scrutinized tight end.
Graham had his first two-touchdown game since November, against Buffalo. His second score Sunday from Russell Wilson, from 18 yards out with 21 seconds left, stunned the Texans.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“You know, I haven’t been that open over the middle in a while,” Graham said, grinning.
This past weekend rumors floated nationally from NFL Network and elsewhere that the Seahawks were shopping Graham in search of offensive line help. He has nine games left on his four-year, $40 million contract Seattle inherited in its trade with New Orleans, for what was then the league most prolific pass-catching tight end in the spring of 2015. Some rumors had Seattle trading Graham for Houston left tackle Duane Brown. Brown ended his holdout last week and started Sunday against the Seahawks.
The fact Graham had $4.6 million remaining due to him over the final couple months of the regular season made a trade highly unlikely.
Sunday, Seahawks general manager John Schneider told the team’s radio pregame show: “We talk about this all the time, that we are in as many deals as we can possibly be in. So we are listening to every scenario we possibly can. And what I can tell is Jimmy’s not being traded.”
Then Graham had as many touchdowns in one game as he had in the six previous.
“In the middle of some drama,” said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who is no stranger to that.
“There are fake reports out there that say we are trading Jimmy Graham. He has to deal with that kind of stress, which is untrue. Thankfully, our GM and our head coach come out and they are very transparent and everything and put those to rest, because he’s a great player and a great teammate.”
Wilson poked a bit at the media — then again praised Graham, as he has for three seasons.
“No offense, but people love writing about stuff and people get different ideas and different thoughts,” Wilson said. “And that’s what you guys get paid what you do to do, and thinking about what it could be.
“Jimmy, we love the guy to death. I hope he never goes anywhere. He’s is a special player, a special friend, special worker, and he brings an enthusiasm to the game. … When he catches the ball (the) whole stadium lights up…
“Jimmy is a special player.”
Graham said he is still recovering from a tricky patellar-tendon surgery in his knee from the injury he got in November 2015 against Pittsburgh. That prematurely ended his debut season for Seattle after just two touchdowns.
He’s been a constant source of frustration and question since. Dropped passes, lost chances and disappearances in the red zone have been more the norm than Sunday’s winning impact, which for him was more reminiscent of his starry days with Drew Brees and the Saints.
“I’m still rehabbing every day,” Graham said. “Compared to where I was last year, a big leap forward as far as pain goes. Last year (65 catches, six scores) was a struggle for me. It feels good to be able to practice on Thursdays this year.
“I am going to keep working. We are all going to keep working.”
Indicative of what they think about their running game, the Seahawks passed on third and 1 and third and 2 on the same drive in the second quarter.
On the second third down, Seattle benefited by its offensive line getting beaten again in pass protection.
Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney slammed into Wilson so hard off the left edge Wilson’s forearm pushed the ball well upfield for what was initially ruled an incomplete pass. Carroll challenged that call hoping for a fumble ruling and a recovery by Luke Willson. A replay review determined Wilson’s arm was not going forward and it was a fumble Seattle recovered past the line to gain.
“That’s a first right there,” Carroll said of challenging a call to get a ruling that his team fumbled.
Instead of a 49-yard field-goal try, Seattle converted its gift first down into Wilson’s latest playground scramble for a score. He eluded Texans all over him then looked to throw to Baldwin, who had broken off his curl route into a go to the end zone. Wilson threw to Baldwin. Richardson ran faster than anyone else from the far right of the end zone to pick off the ball before it reached Baldwin for an unlikely touchdown. That tied the game at 14.
RUNNING TO NOWHERE (CONT.)
The Seahawks had 10 carries for 3 yards in the first half. They finished with 21 rushes for a season-low 33 yards.
The 33 yards tied for Seattle’s fewest on the ground since 2011. The Seahawks ran for 33 yards on 12 carries this past November in the home win over Buffalo.
Seattle had 13 runs for 31 yards on Sept. 18, 2011, in a 24-0 loss at Pittsburgh.
Eddie Lacy started Sunday. He ran six times for as many yards as you gained. Clowney bulled through Tre Madden and pushed the fullback into Lacy for a 6-yard loss in the first half, to typify the Seahawks’ running game right now.
Lacy has 108 yards this season on 42 carries (2.6 yards per rush).
Thomas Rawls touched the ball for the first time late in the second quarter. He finished with six carries for minus-1 yard. He has 59 yards on 30 runs this season.
Instead of pouting, Rawls stayed supportive. While trying to stay loose on the sidelines jogging with high knees in front of the Seahawks’ bench, he stopped to shake Paul Richardson’s had following the wide receiver’s second touchdown catch of the first half.
J.D. McKissic had four carries for 6 yards.
Wilson again led the team in rushing: four carries for 30 yards, mostly on scrambles away from pass rushers. Again.
SITTING, KNEELING DURING ANTHEM
On the Seahawks’ sideline, Michael Bennett again sat during the anthem, as he has since the preseason opener in mid-August to protest for better treatment of minorities and the need for police reform in the U.S.
As they did last weekend at the New York Giants, eight of Bennett’s fellow defensive linemen sat with him.
About 30 of the 53 Texans took a knee along their sideline during the national anthem, two days after an ESPN story revealed their team owner Bob McNair said at an NFL meeting of fellow owners “we can’t let the inmates run the prison.”
On Friday, the day McNair’s comments became public, top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins left Texans’ headquarters and skipped practice. After his 224-yard receiving day Sunday, the second-most ever against the Seahawks, Hopkins was asked about skipping practice and about McNair’s comment.
“The Seahawks played a great game,” Hopkins said, both times.
Will Fuller, who caught two of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson’s four touchdown passes, said McNair’s words unified the Texans.
“That is really good for our team, too, showing that unity. We are all playing for each other,” Fuller said.
“For this situation, it was tough. Just looking at the locker room, it’s a different vibe going on. We decided to come out here and play our (butts) off for each other. And that’s what we did.”
EXTRA POINTS: The first half ended 21-21, even though Houston out-gained Seattle 281 to 163. … Despite being questionable to play because the ankle he sprained the weekend before, Justin Britt started as expected at center. … Rookie second-round draft choice Ethan Pocic made his second consecutive start at left guard. This time, Pocic did not alternate with former starter Mark Glowinski. … Rookie third-round pick Shaquill Griffin started at right cornerback instead of Jeremy Lane, who began the game in nickel. A 22-yard pass-interference penalty on Lane, who complained last week about being benched from his starting-cornerback job, set up Lamar Miller’s 3-yard touchdown run to put Houston ahead 14-7 in the first quarter. Justin Coleman then entered and played much of the time at nickel.