Stunner: Seahawks Acquire Jimmy Graham From Saints

Jimmy Graham will join the Seattle Seahawks next season after a stunning trade between the Seahawks and New Orleans Saints. (Photo: Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports)
Jimmy Graham will join the Seattle Seahawks next season after a stunning trade between the Seahawks and New Orleans Saints.
(Photo: Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports)

In a stunning trade, the New Orleans Saints have agreed to ship star tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks for a first-round pick and center Max Unger, a person with knowledge of the deal told USA TODAY Sports.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the players must pass physicals and the trade can’t be finalized until the new league year begins at 4 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

Graham, 28, gives the Seahawks another receiving threat for Russell Wilson as they try to load up for a third straight Super Bowl trip and balance an offense that leans on running back Marshawn Lynch, who just signed a new three-year deal.

Meanwhile, the Saints get a two-time Pro Bowl center in Unger, but will have to replace another premier playmaker one year after trading away scat back Darren Sproles. They also get some needed salary cap relief in exchange for Graham, who has 386 catches for 4,752 yards and 51 touchdowns in five NFL seasons.

As of Monday morning, the Saints were nearly $16 million over the 2015 cap – the most in the league, according to NFL Players Association records. They began clearing space by releasing linebacker Curtis Lofton, and ESPN reported they restructured end Junior Galette’s contract.

Graham is due a $5 million roster bonus on Thursday and was set to count $11 million against the Saints’ cap. Trading him now actually saves the Saints $2 million in cap space this year, as well as freeing up flexibility going forward.

They’ll still have to pay Unger, who is due a $4.5 million base salary in 2015.

The teams had been talking trade since at least Sunday.

The Seahawks were nearly $22 million under the cap as of Monday morning, per the NFLPA.

They’ll be responsible for the $5 million roster bonus and Graham’s $2.9 million guaranteed base salary. His base salaries in 2016 ($8.9 million) and 2017 ($7.9 million) aren’t guaranteed. He also can earn a $100,000 workout bonus each season and is due a $2 million roster bonus on the third day of the 2017 league year.

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SOURCE: USA Today – Tom Pelissero

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