Brian Allee-Walsh

Jury remains out on Jimmy Graham trade

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham wears pink headphones and other items for breast cancer awareness during warmups before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham wears pink headphones and other items for breast cancer awareness during warmups before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

I was all ready to introduce a novel idea to the NFL, then the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints went and ruined it.

I call it -- Traded Player/Designated to Return.

My thought was this: Since it appeared the off-season trade between the Saints and Seahawks involving tight end Jimmy Graham and center Max Unger wasn't working out for either team, why not allow both players to return to their former work place and act as if the transaction never happened?

No harm, no foul.

A struggling Seahawks' offense certainly could use its two-time Pro Bowl center (Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch would be doing cartwheels) and a struggling Saints offense certainly could use a big-play tight end (Drew Brees would be ecstatic).

But no, Graham and Unger wouldn't play along. They had to go out in Week 6 and show why the teams swapped those players in the first place.

Unger anchored a patchwork offensive line that max protected Brees and helped the Saints knock off the previously undefeated Atlanta Falcons. Additionally, veteran tight end Benjamin Watson had a breakout game, catching 10 balls for a career-high 127 yards and one TD, prompting Who Dat Nation to mockingly ask, "Jimmy Who?''

But wait, it gets worse.

Graham went out and lit up the Carolina Panthers for eight catches and 140 yards. And he got physical, too.

Now, one game doesn't mean the deal is a good one.

Last time I checked the standings neither team is contending in its respective division. Each is clearly underachieving with sub-.500 records (both are 2-4) and in danger of missing the playoffs. So the trade still lacks traction in my estimation.

There are other parameters to consider with regards to the Traded Player/Designated to Return proposal.

For starters, both teams would have to agree to re-gift.

In my fantasy world, teams would have an eight-week window to determine if they were wedded to the trade. The teams could terminate the deal at anytime during that time frame. If picks were involved, as was the case in the Graham-Unger trade, the teams would merely return unused draft picks or send future comparable picks as compensation.

Teams also would inherit the players' existing contracts with a time allowance to conform to the current league salary cap. And yes, the NFL Players Association and NFL would have to agree and make this part of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement.

OK, so my Traded Player/Designated to Return plan needs a little tweaking.

Hey, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast weren't rebuilt overnight.

That said, I think the jury remains out on the Graham-Unger trade. To date, I don't see where it truly benefits either team.

Remember, sometimes the best trade is the one never made.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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