Unger, 1st round pick traded for Jimmy Graham

With pricey free agents electing to sign elsewhere, general manager John Schneider and Pete Carroll resorted back to the strategy that previously landed the club dynamic playmakers in Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin, sending starting center Max Unger and the No. 31 overall pick of this year's draft to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth round pick.

The trade for Jimmy Graham came after Seattle was unable to convince free agent tight end Julius Thomas to sign with the club. Seattle has been searching for a dynamic seam threat to complement the running game. This was viewed as a higher priority than adding a receiver for the perimeter, where Seattle only occasionally throws.

“The opportunity to get a player that can make these types of plays that we’ve seen Jimmy Graham do for a number of years really got us excited in complementing the rest of our team," Pete Carroll said during the team's press conference officially announcing the trade. "We think he’s a fantastic target that we can implement in a number of ways. I think all the ways we’ve come to understand is pretty clear – he’s a big receiver, plays big, makes plays in a crowd, makes plays on top of guys, is a very effective player in the red zone, he’s been a consistent scorer. So all of that stuff, we’re going to fit it into our offense and make him a very obvious complementary part of it. When you have to deal with Marshawn (Lynch) and it starts with the run game and Russell (Wilson) doing his thing to complement the receivers that we have that have made so many plays for us and done so many cool things – we think this is a great addition and should really…. You’re best players always help your other guys play well and be productive. That’s what we’re hoping for."

The loss of Pro Bowl center Max Unger (and a first round pick) is a significant one but given his lack of durability and the fact that this will be the third consecutive year in which Seattle hasn't used a first round selection, the Seahawks clearly have grown increasingly comfortable without either.

As noted by Jason Puckett of Sports Radio KJR in Seattle, the Seahawks fared well a season ago with Patrick Lewis taking over for an injured Unger, averaging 168 yards on the ground in four starts (Oakland, the two Arizona games and St. Louis).

The class of 2015 is hardly a dominant one for centers. It is viewed as a similar to last year, where ironically enough rookies Corey Linsley and Bryan Stork went from mid round selections to starting for the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, respectively. While the player I projected to Seattle with the No. 31 overall pick -- Florida State's Cameron Erving -- isn't likely to be available at No. 63, there are some intriguing middle and late round candidates to keep an eye on, including Kansas State's B.J. Finney and guard-convert Shaq Mason from Georgia Tech who I thought stood out at the Senior Bowl. If Seattle was to make center their top priority at No. 63, Oregon's Hroniss Grasu and Auburn's Reese Dismukes could be in play. They currently rank second and third (behind Erving), respectively on NFLDraftScout.com's board.

Rather than spend too much time looking ahead, however, today should be about Graham, whose height and speed gives Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch a third legitimate playmaker that defenses must account for on every snap.

The cost of adding Graham was significant, but the gain to Seattle's offense could be exactly what this club needed to keep up with other aggressive moves by division and conference opponents.

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