Graham with the Seattle Seahawks in 2015
|No. 80 – Green Bay Packers|
November 24, 1986 |
Goldsboro, North Carolina
|Height:||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)|
|Weight:||265 lb (120 kg)|
|High school:||Wilson (NC) Charis Prep|
|NFL Draft:||2010 / Round: 3 / Pick: 95|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of 2017|
Jimmy Graham (born November 24, 1986) is an American football tight end for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). He played only one year of college football at the University of Miami, after playing four years of basketball. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
In his second season in the NFL, Graham had 99 receptions for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. That year, he made his first Pro Bowl appearance and was selected as an All-Pro player at his position. He became the first tight end in Saints history to have more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season. He set the Saints franchise record for receptions in a season while also tying the Saints franchise record for touchdowns in a season. Graham is also second all-time for most receiving yards and receiving touchdowns by a tight end in a single season.
Born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Graham had a difficult upbringing. At age 11, he was placed in a group home by his mother where he was physically beaten by older children. In high school, with help from a church youth counselor who took him in and eventually adopted him, he improved his grades, became a basketball star as a senior at Community Christian in Wilson, North Carolina and at Charis Prep in Wilson, North Carolina, and earned a basketball scholarship at Miami.
Graham played basketball for the Miami Hurricanes men's basketball team from 2005 to 2009. Graham graduated from Miami in May 2009 with a double major in marketing and management, then stayed at Miami to take graduate classes while playing a season of football. He played tight end and finished the season with 17 receptions for 213 yards and five touchdowns in appearances in 13 games.
|Graham's NFL Combine workout|
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert jump||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 6 1⁄4 in
|10 5⁄8 in
|4.56 s||1.58 s||2.66 s||4.45 s||6.90 s||38 1⁄2 in
|10 ft 0 in
|All values are from NFL Combine, except bench press from Pro Day|
According to scouts, Graham was "extremely athletic, with an outstanding combination of size and speed for the tight end position," yet he was considered very raw since he only had one year of college football experience. Graham was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, with the 95th overall selection. He signed a four-year, $2.445 million rookie contract on July 28, 2010.
In his rookie season in 2010, Graham started in only 5 games, playing behind veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey, who also had played for the Miami Hurricanes. In a Week 9 game at Carolina—his first NFL game in his home state—Graham caught a 19-yard pass to score his first career NFL touchdown, contributing to a 34-3 Saints rout. Graham finished the 2010 season with 31 catches for 356 yards and 5 touchdowns.
In 2011—his first full year as a starter—Graham had 99 receptions for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns and made his first Pro Bowl. He became the first tight end in Saints history to have more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season. He set the franchise record for receptions in a season while also tying the Saints franchise record for touchdowns in a season (Marques Colston in 2007 and Joe Horn in 2004, are the other receivers in Saints history with 11 touchdown catches). During the Saints' Week 17 win over the Carolina Panthers, Graham broke Kellen Winslow's NFL record of 1,290 receiving yards in a season by a tight end. However, the record was broken later that day by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who finished the season with 1,327 yards. In the divisional round playoff against the 49ers, Graham had a 4th-quarter 66 yard touchdown to give the Saints the lead, but the Saints ultimately lost 36-32 on a last-second 49ers touchdown pass.
Graham was ranked 14th overall by his peers in the 2012 NFL Top 100 annual player poll, which ranks the 100 best players in the NFL based on votes from NFL players and coaches. He was left off the list in 2013, but on the 2014 list he was ranked 10th overall, becoming the first tight end to make the top ten of this list. His 2012 season was productive, ending the year with 85 receptions for 982 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Graham became known for his trademark touchdown celebration where he would slam dunk the football over the goalpost, a reference to his basketball background. During the 2013 season, he infamously bent the goalpost celebrating his touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons. Prior to the 2014 season, the NFL banned goalpost dunks and made it punishable as "unsportsmanlike conduct," which results in a penalty and a fine. Graham became the first player penalized under the new rule and was fined $30,000 for dunking during the preseason game against the Tennessee Titans in August 2014.
In the 2013 season, Graham lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 16.
Under the terms of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, Graham became a free agent after the 2013 season. On February 28, 2014, it was reported that the Saints had placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on him, meaning that he would be allowed to negotiate and sign an offer sheet with another team; the Saints would then have the right to match that offer sheet and retain Graham, and if they did not, the other team would owe the Saints two first round draft picks. No such competing offer sheet was signed, but negotiations between Graham and the Saints were complicated by disagreement as to whether Graham should be treated for bargaining purposes as a tight end (his official position) or as a wide receiver (where he often lines up during games), since the difference in applicable compensation under the franchise tag is more than $5 million for the year. On July 2, 2014, an arbitrator ruled that Graham was indeed a tight end for franchise tag purposes.
Graham appealed the arbitrator's ruling to preserve his position while negotiations continued. On July 15, the last day for a new multiyear contract to be negotiated under league rules, the Saints and Graham agreed on a new 4-year deal with $21 million guaranteed and a total value of $40 million over 4 years, making Graham the highest-paid tight end in the league at the time.
In the 2014 season, Graham would record 85 receptions for 889 yards and ten touchdowns.
On March 10, 2015, Graham was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for center Max Unger and the Seahawks' first-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Graham wore number #88 in Seattle as number 80 was retired in honor of Steve Largent. On November 29, 2015, Graham suffered a torn right patellar tendon. The next day on November 30, 2015, Graham was placed on injured reserve.
In 2016, Graham finished the season with 923 yards, 65 receptions, and 6 touchdowns. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl as a member of the Seahawks. He helped the Seahawks reach the Divisional Round of the playoffs that year, where their season would end against the eventual NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.
On December 19, 2017, Graham was named to his fifth Pro Bowl.
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