It was believed the decision for tight end Jimmy Graham came down to the Green Bay Packers and his former team, the New Orleans Saints. And perhaps those were the two finalists.
The Packers, who paid Graham an average of $10 million per season, reportedly outbid the Saints.
However, if you believe Graham, they didn’t outbid everyone. Graham cited his desire to play with Rodgers on Tuesday, when asked why he chose to sign with the Packers.
“There was a lot of teams out there who were really pulling on me and I turned down quite a significant amount of money to come here because I believe in not only Mike (McCarthy) but, I mean, ‘12’s’ hungry,” Graham said. “I know how he is and I know how competitive he is and I want to ride that wave and try to help him as best I can.”
Graham was highly-productive when he played with the Saints. He twice surpassed 1,000 yards and topped the 800-yard mark four times.
In 2015, Graham was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. He would top 900 yards only once (2016) while in Seattle. It seems fairly obvious Graham didn’t want to keep playing there. He more or less said as much on Tuesday.
“Seattle, defensive based,” Graham said. “Run, run, run and take care of the ball. We won a lot of games that way, and I did everything to the best of my ability, and unfortunately when I first got there I did have that knee injury which kind of slowed me down a bit.
“I was able to come back nine months later and haven’t missed a game since then.”
Graham still thinks he can produce at a high level. The Packers obviously do, as well. They haven’t had big-time production at tight end since Jermichael Finley got injured.
The key here is how the Packers utilize Graham. When he was at his best in New Orleans, the Saints typically split him out wide. In Seattle, Graham was used as a more traditional end-of-the-line tight end.
The former direction makes a lot of sense, not only in terms of past production, but because the Packers no longer have Jordy Nelson. Most people believe Graham was essentially brought on with the Packers looking at him more as a receiver than a tight end.
The two things we’re interested in seeing is, 1. will McCarthy utilize Graham properly, and 2. will Rodgers trust him enough to throw him the ball?