|SEAHAWKS FREE-AGENT ACTIVITY|
A look at what the Seahawks gained and lost during the first four days of the NFL free-agency period:
Jimmy Graham: The Seahawks acquired the three-time Pro Bowl tight end Tuesday in a trade with the New Orleans Saints. Graham has averaged 89 receptions for 1,099 yards and 11.5 touchdowns the past four seasons.
Cary Williams: The former starting cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles was signed Tuesday, after being released last week by the Eagles. He is the leading candidate to step in at the vacant right cornerback spot, opposite All-Pro Richard Sherman.
Fourth-round draft choice: This extra pick in the NFL Draft came as part of the deal to acquire Graham.
Max Unger: The two-time Pro Bowl center was traded to the Saints on Tuesday in the deal that brought Graham to the Seahawks. As coach Pete Carroll put it, "We love Max and he's been a great part of our team. But this was part of the conversation and we had to go here to get this done."
First-round draft choice: Sending the 31st selection in next month's NFL Draft was the other "part of the conversation" in the deal to acquire Graham.
Byron Maxwell: The Seahawks lost their starting right cornerback Tuesday after the Eagles offered Maxwell what general manager John Schneider labeled "a monster, monster contract."
James Carpenter: For the second consecutive offseason, the Seahawks lost a starting offensive lineman to the New York Jets in free agency. Last year, it was right tackle Breno Giacomini. This year, it's Carpenter, who started 13 games at left guard last season and 10 at left guard in 2013.
Malcolm Smith: You could see this one coming as soon as the Oakland Raiders hired former linebackers coach Ken Norton to be their defensive coordinator. Smith, the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, followed Norton to the Bay Area this week. Smith made plays whenever he was on the field, but he just couldn't crack the starting unit because of outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Bruce Irvin.
O'Brien Schofield: The Seahawks thought they had lost the versatile rush-end/linebacker to the New York Giants in free agency last year. But Schofield was re-signed after he failed his physical with the Giants. This week, Schofield followed former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to Atlanta, where Quinn is now the Falcons' head coach.
Bryan Walters: He was the punt returner last season. But the restricted free agent who was not given a tender by the Seahawks is looking to do more, and will get that opportunity after signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday. "I feel I haven't even touched what I can do in this league," Walters told Jaguars.com.
For Russell Wilson, the comparisons to Drew Brees started before he ever entered the NFL because the opposite-ends-of-their-careers quarterbacks share a lack of prototypical height but also an uncanny ability to sense and elude pressure.
And Jimmy Graham has more than just a passing interest in this QB comparison because he has played with one – the 6-foot Brees, for the past five seasons with the New Orleans Saints; and is about to play with the other – the 5-11 Wilson, who was the first of Graham's new teammates to call him Tuesday after the Seahawks acquired the three-time Pro Bowl tight end in a trade.
"They do have similar games, except Russell really will run with the ball," Graham said Thursday during a conference-call interview. "Drew will really, really stay and sit in the pocket, no matter what. He rarely runs."
Graham is well aware that he won't be playing in New Orleans anymore, and that his role with the Seahawks will be altered because of it. During Graham's five seasons with the Saints, Brees averaged 659 pass attempts. He threw more passes than QB in the league last season (659); ranked No. 2 in 2012 (670), 2011 (657) and 2010 (658); and was No. 3 in 2013 (650).
"In New Orleans, we've really been slinging the rock," Graham said.
In Seattle? Wilson has thrown 393, 407 and 452 passes in his first three seasons since the Seahawks selected him in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
"I've been watching some film, and it seems like a lot of teams play a lot of Cover 0 versus them," Graham said of the alignment where the defense is in man-to-man coverage because a safety or two are being used in run support.
"That's because of Marshawn Lynch, and because that read-option is so good. Marshawn, I mean you have to put guys in the box; you have to bring safeties down. So when you're playing Cover 0, there are a lot of opportunities down the field, there are a lot of opportunities in that middle section where you'll have guys in these one-on-one matchups. And I think eventually teams won't be able to do that. You're not going to be able to go Cover 0 just to stop the run. I think I can help open that up."
Back to the running element of Wilson's game that Graham mentioned. Wilson rushed for 849 yards last season, the fifth-highest total by a QB in league history. Brees has run for 690 yards in his 14-season career.
"I was watching a lot of film where Russell ends up kind of breaking out of the pocket. And really that's when he's scary," Graham said. "That's when coverages are broken down. And you've got to respect him as a runner because he's so good at it.
"And he's able to get these shots down the field and these huge game-changing plays. So I'm really looking forward to seeing that for the first time, because Drew really is a pocket passer. Wilson, he can be a pocket passer. But he's so dynamic in what he can do and he's so dangerous outside the pocket that it's really going to be fun."
And that fun will begin with Graham developing the same kind of chemistry with Wilson that he had with Brees. After a rookie season where Graham had 31 receptions, he more than tripled that in 2011 – when he put up career-best totals in receptions (99) and receiving yards (1,310).
"The way Drew and me really sped that up, especially early in my career, was having a full practice or an OTA and then after practice we would get even more reps in," Graham said.
Sounds like Wilson's kind of guy. He is, after all, the first player in and the last to leave during the season and "There's no time to sleep" is one of his favorite catchphrases.
"As long as he wants to throw to me, I'll keep catching," Graham said. "I know we're probably going to spend a lot of time after practice just working routes. What he likes. What he doesn't like. And what he prefers, because Russell is a fantastic quarterback.
"I've been able to watch some film on him and clearly I've played against him quite a bit these last couple years. So I'm excited about working with him and about getting this chemistry together."