Jimmy Graham signed with the Packers this offseason, and he can hopefully return to being a complete Fantasy tight end. Graham was good in 2017 with Seattle and finished as the No. 4 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues. But his main production came from leading all tight ends with 10 touchdowns, which was tied for second in the NFL among receiving touchdowns with new teammate Davante Adams (DeAndre Hopkins was first with 13). But Graham had just 520 yards, which was his lowest total since his rookie season in 2010. And his 57 receptions was the third-lowest total of his career. Graham has done a nice job playing with some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL with Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and now Aaron Rodgers, and he should be considered an elite Fantasy tight end again this year, even at 31. He has top-five potential, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 5 in the majority of leagues.
Graham believes he can replicate his production from his time with the Saints, nothing that "I'm still 6-[foot]-7 and can still run a 4.5 [40-yard dash]", ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky reports. Graham technically ran a 4.56 40 while checking in at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds at the 2010 combine, but there's little reason to doubt the broader idea that he's still one of the most athletic tight ends in the league. The Packers apparently believe that to be the case, as they signed the 31-year-old to a three-year, $30 million contract in mid-March, right around the time Jordy Nelson was released. Green Bay does have a way to get out of the deal after one season and $13 million, as Graham's $11 million signing bonus is the only fully guaranteed portion of his contract, per OverTheCap. He was a bit of a disappointment in his three-year run with Seattle, struggling to make an impact near the goal line (eight TDs in 27 games) his first two seasons, and then struggling outside the red zone (10 TDs, 5.3 yards per target) in 2017. Aaron Rodgers already has strong chemistry with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, but it isn't unreasonable to think that Graham could push the latter for No. 2 status in Green Bay's passing attack.
Graham's three-year contract with the Packers is official, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Graham had only eight scores in 27 games his first two seasons in Seattle, then suffered a massive drop off in efficiency (9.1 yards per catch, 5.3 per target) while hitting paydirt 10 times last year. He'll have a shot to put it all together in Green Bay, where he'll join forces with Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb in a passing game that no longer has Jordy Nelson around to hog red-zone targets. The 31-year-old tight end isn't the same player he was during his peak years in New Orleans, but Rodgers should help mask the loss of speed and agility. All bets are off if Rodgers gets hurt again and Graham has to play with a backup.
The Packers are slated to sign Graham when free agency officially opens Wednesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. This marks the first foray into free agency of the Brian Gutekunst era. Once Graham puts pen to paper on the three-year contract, the Packers will bolster their ranks with one of the better receiving tight ends in the NFL. Although he hasn't surpassed 1,000 yards since 2013, he remains a beast in the red zone, as evidenced by a league-leading 27 targets in the region last season. Such volume translated to 10 touchdowns, which may be his floor working with Aaron Rodgers in 2018, assuming good health.
Graham isn't expected to re-sign with the Seahawks, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports. After struggling to make an impact in the red zone his first two years in Seattle, the 31-year-old tight end scored 10 times last season but only caught 57 of 98 targets for 520 yards (5.3 per target). The cap-strapped Seahawks probably prefer to go cheaper at tight end, while TE-needy teams with more flexibility should still be willing to make a significant financial commitment for a stab at Graham's upside. The Saints reportedly are interested in a reunion.
Graham tied for second in the NFL with a position-leading 10 touchdown receptions in 2017, but he posted career lows in yards per reception (9.1) and yards per target (5.4). Absent a short-yardage running game, the Seahawks fed Graham at the goal line. He led the league in targets inside the 10-yard line (16) and inside the 5 (14). But the Seahawks didn't get much out of him between the 20s. His non-RZ targets accounted for just 75 percent of his total, the lowest among tight ends with at least 40 targets. That led to his fewest receptions (57) and yards (520) since his rookie season when he had only 44 targets. Graham didn't help himself, either, as he led tight ends in drops with seven (one shy of league-leading Marqise Lee) and caught a career-low 59.3 percent of his targets. Graham is an unrestricted free agent and there is seemingly little chance he'll re-sign with Seattle. For whatever reason, the production of Jimmy Graham in the Seahawks offense never lived up to the potential of the Jimmy Graham in the Seahawks offense.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|6||10/16||San Francisco 49ers||18||6.75|
|8||10/28||@Los Angeles Rams||19||6.82|
|9||11/05||@New England Patriots||15||6.42|
|16||12/23||@New York Jets||23||7.25|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||89||57||683||6||35||11.98||102|