Warning: If you don't look at things with an open mind and don't feasibly understand why trading Jimmy Graham could have an upside, turn back now.
During the bye week I wrote a post debating whether Drew Brees is becoming too Jimmy-dependent and our buddy J.R. Ella proposed the idea of trading Jimmy Graham away. Both of these topics are pretty dang controversial, but I'll admit, I never expected some of the close-minded comments that tagged along.
Let's start out with the fact that the NFL is a business. In this day and age, nobody is safe on a roster no matter how good they are. A player could be the league leading receiver one year and then two years later be cut and sent to the streets or traded away for picks. If you don't understand this, then I don't blame you for not getting why Jimmy would be given up.
If you don't believe me, take a look at what is known as "The Trade." In 1989, the Cowboys decided to trade Herschel Walker, arguably the best college football player of all time, on a whim. After only three seasons with the club, Walker packed his things and was shipped to the Minnesota Vikings.
Dallas traded Walker plus four draft picks to the Vikings for five players and eight draft picks, two of which were spent on Darren Woodson and Emmitt Smith; both turned out to be key to Dallas' Super Bowl victories and went on to be all-time greats. Nobody knew how this trade would work out in the end when it was developed. Minnesota figured they were a star running back away from a Super Bowl and Dallas was desperately trying to turn their season around.
Similarly, the Cleveland Browns traded away their second year star running back Trent Richardson to the Colts for a first round pick just a couple of games into the 2013 season. Pundits thought the Browns were absolutely insane. They traded a running back that sports a 3.4 yards per carry average in his career and just 3.1 in 2013. Mark Ingram's career average is 3.8 per clip and if someone offered the Saints a first round pick for him I would be extremely interested to know what illegal substance was being used.
Teams use trades such as ones like that of Herschel and Richardson to build for the future. The Boys got three first rounders and three seconds in their deal and the Browns picked up a first. They will be able to draft a quarterback that they are in desperate need of, plus use their original pick to snag a defensive or offensive playmaker. Bill Belichick has been using the formula of acquiring draft picks to build depth for over a decade and he has created a dynasty in the Patriots that includes appearing in five Super Bowls and winning three of them.
If someone was offering Mickey Loomis the right deal, say a pair of firsts and a pair of seconds for Jimmy, why would it be so wrong for him to consider it? That's right, it wouldn't. Think of how big the Saints would become on draft day with a first round pick (plus others) from a team like Jacksonville or Oakland, who both will likely have top ten picks. They could package picks in another deal for a stud in return or draft a defensive monster like Jadaveon Clowney or, get this, add an offensive weapon such as Mike Evans from Texas A&M who would be just as deadly as Graham. Oh, and don't forget they will be back with a pair of picks in the second round. Crazy how that works isn't it?
By no means am I saying that Jimmy is (or should be) on the trading block, or that he isn't a part of the team's future plans. But to say that it would be stupid to trade him for a huge return value is ludicrous, especially when you figure the Saints would probably have to cut a third of their team to make cap room for his monstrous new deal. NFL general managers have to and will look into every deal that is proposed or else they could miss out on a chance to better their team in the long run.
It's not like the Saints would be super crippled from trading Graham away either. I mean, if you think about it, they would only have Nick Toon, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Ben Watson, Kenny Stills, Robert Meachem, and whichever receiving threat(s) that they would get to replace him left.
Now that you mention it, they would be screwed. C'mon, Saints fans. Let's be real here.