Hannable: Idea of Jimmy Graham to Patriots isn’t as crazy as it may sound

Ryan Hannable
February 13, 2018 - 10:51 pm

Sergio Estrada/USA Today Sports

The Patriots have always been an organization not afraid to make a big move or two during the offseason.

Last offseason it was Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks, so who might it be this offseason? 

Perhaps, Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham.

On NFL Network Monday night, former NFL receiver Nate Burleson believes it would be a good landing spot for the impending free agent.

“This is where the rich get richer: the New England Patriots,” Burleson said. “Anytime there’s an aging player, especially a running back, wide receiver or tight end, I love seeing them in a New England jersey. It’s just something about them being able to rejuvenate guys’ careers. And it’s one thing if you go and you know you’re going to play with a Hall of Famer in Tom Brady. But you already go there and know, ‘This is going to be the best version of me.'”

For years the Patriots have been searching for a tight end to team up with Rob Gronkowski and just haven’t been able to find one. The latest tight end to fizzle out is Dwayne Allen, who finds himself being in danger of being cut after just one season since it will save the Patriots roughly $5 million against the cap.

Additionally, expect the team to part ways with Martellus Bennett, who is expected to retire. Moving on from him would save the Patriots $6.5 million. 

It is also worth noting Gronkowski hasn’t committed to playing to next season, but that was immediately following the Super Bowl LII loss. From this viewpoint, expect Gronkowski back in 2018.

The Patriots could use some of the money saved with Allen and Bennett to go towards signing Graham. Certainly, there are other pressing needs, but say the Patriots offer the 31-year-old a two-year deal worth roughly $8 million a year -- wouldn’t this be an intriguing offer?

The flip side is at 31 years old, Graham could be looking to get one final five-year, big money deal that the Patriots likely wouldn’t want to do, but the Patriots could argue he would potentially get a Super Bowl ring in those two seasons and then potentially stick around depending on what happens with Gronkowski, who is signed for two more years as well.

Signing Graham would do two things for the Patriots. One, give Gronkowski the best tight end he’s ever played alongside, and two, be a potential insurance policy for 28-year-old.

Lots of people question Graham’s durability, but in his eight-year career he’s missed just seven games and has played all 16 games in each of the last two years. He’s also an exceptional talent, especially in the red zone. This past year he finished with 57 catches for 520 yards and 10 touchdowns. Overall, he has 69 touchdowns in eight seasons. 

Gronkowski and Graham on the field together would be a matchup nightmare in its own right, but then throw in Cooks, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan at the receiver position with Tom Brady at quarterback, pending health, it could be a historic offense.

Other than addressing Nate Solder and the left tackle position, the offense doesn’t have any other big moves to make, so why not use some of the money saved with Allen and Bennett to go after Graham.

Like we said, it may be tough to convince the five-time Pro Bowler to take a short-term contract, but we’ve seen time and time again veterans come to New England on lesser deals because they want to win a championship.

On the surface it may seem highly unlikely Graham comes to New England, but we should know better by now not to count anything out.

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