Jimmy Graham

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Jimmy Graham
refer to caption
Graham with the Seattle Seahawks in 2015
No. 80 – Green Bay Packers
Position: Tight end
Personal information
Born: (1986-11-24) November 24, 1986 (age 31)
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Height: 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Weight: 265 lb (120 kg)
Career information
High school: Charis Prep
(Wilson, North Carolina)
College: Miami (FL)
NFL Draft: 2010 / Round: 3 / Pick: 95
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2017
Receptions: 556
Receiving yards: 6,800
Receiving touchdowns: 69
Player stats at NFL.com

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.[1] He set the Saints franchise record for receptions in a season while also tying the Saints franchise record for touchdowns in a season.[2] Graham is also second all-time for most receiving yards and receiving touchdowns by a tight end in a single season.[3]

In only three seasons, Graham also set the Seattle Seahawks franchise record for the most receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns at the tight end position.[4]

Early years[edit]

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[5] and at Charis Prep in Wilson, North Carolina, and earned a basketball scholarship at Miami.[6][7][8]

College career[edit]

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.[6][9]

College football statistics[edit]

Miami Hurricanes
Year GP Receiving
Rec Yds Avg Lng TD
2009 13 17 213 12.5 22 5
Total 13 17 213 12.5 22 5
Source: FoxSports.com

Professional career[edit]

External video
Graham's NFL Combine workout
Pre-draft measurables
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 14 in
(1.99 m)
260 lb
(118 kg)
35 in
(0.89 m)
10 58 in
(0.27 m)
4.56 s 1.58 s 2.66 s 4.45 s 6.90 s 38 12 in
(0.98 m)
10 ft 0 in
(3.05 m)
15 reps
All values are from NFL Combine, except bench press from Pro Day[10][11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

New Orleans Saints[edit]

Graham with the Saints in 2012

2010 season[edit]

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.[14] Graham finished the 2010 season with 31 catches for 356 yards and 5 touchdowns.

2011 season[edit]

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.[15] He became the first tight end in Saints history to have more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season.[1] 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).[2] 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.[16] 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.

2012 season[edit]

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.[17] His 2012 season was productive, ending the year with 85 receptions for 982 yards and 9 touchdowns.

2013 season[edit]

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.[18][19] 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.[20] 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.[21][22]

In the 2013 season, Graham lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 16.

2014 season[edit]

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.[23][24]

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.[25]

In the 2014 season, Graham would record 85 receptions for 889 yards and ten touchdowns.

Seattle Seahawks[edit]

2015 season[edit]

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.[26][27] 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.[28]

2016 season[edit]

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.[29]

2017 season[edit]

On December 19, 2017, Graham was named to his fifth Pro Bowl.[30]

Green Bay Packers[edit]

On March 16, 2018, Graham signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Green Bay Packers.[31][32]

NFL career statistics[edit]

Regular season[edit]

2010 NO 16 31 43 357 11.5 52 5 21 1 0
2011 NO 16 99 149 1,310 13.2 59 11 74 1 1
2012 NO 15 85 135 982 11.6 46 9 59 1 0
2013 NO 16 86 144 1,215 14.1 56 16 61 0 0
2014 NO 16 85 124 889 10.5 29 10 54 2 2
2015 SEA 11 48 73 605 12.6 45 2 29 0 0
2016 SEA 16 65 95 923 14.2 42 6 45 2 2
2017 SEA 16 57 98 520 9.1 33 10 32 0 0
Total 121 556 861 6,800 12.2 59 69 375 7 5
Source: NFL.com


2011 NO 2 12 19 158 13.2 66 3 8 0 0
2013 NO 2 4 10 52 13.0 21 0 2 0 0
2016 SEA 2 6 7 56 9.8 14 1 2 0 0
Total 6 22 36 269 12.2 66 4 12 0 0
Source: pro-football-reference.com


  1. ^ a b John DeShazier, "New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham setting some lofty standards", Times-Picayune, December 4, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "New Orleans Saints individual records -- not including quarterback Drew Brees" Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  3. ^ "Top Five Tight Ends in NFL History". Yahoo. Archived from the original on 2014-07-28. 
  4. ^ "Jimmy Graham sets franchise record for most touchdowns by a tight end". 
  5. ^ Dave Joseph, "Jimmy Graham Felt Unwanted, Unloved, Hopeless, Until A . . . Savior Appeared", South Florida Sun-Sentinel, January 7, 2006.
  6. ^ a b Jason Cole, "TE prospect adept at overcoming obstacles", Yahoo! Sports, April 8, 2010.
  7. ^ James Varney, "New Orleans Saints rookie Jimmy Graham appreciates life's lessons", Times-Picayune, May 17, 2010.
  8. ^ "How to be a Saint". ESPN. August 29, 2014. 
  9. ^ Brett Martel, "Saints' rookie Graham grateful for life's lessons", AP reprinted at New Orleans Saints official website, May 14, 2010 (accessed November 8, 2010).
  10. ^ "NFL Events: Combine Player Profiles - Jimmy Graham". NFL.com. Archived from the original on March 13, 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2018. 
  11. ^ "Jimmy Graham - Miami (FL), TE : 2010 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile". DraftScout.com. Archived from the original on April 14, 2018. Retrieved April 14, 2018. 
  12. ^ "NFL Featured Prospect Profile", Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  13. ^ Mike Triplett, "New Orleans Saints agree to terms with veteran quarterback Patrick Ramsey, rookie tight end Jimmy Graham", Times-Picayune, July 28, 2010.
  14. ^ James Varney, "New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham scores first TD in return home", Times-Picayune, November 08, 2010.
  15. ^ "Five New Orleans Saints named to Pro Bowl, including first-timers Jimmy Graham and Jermon Bushrod". The Times-Picayune. December 27, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Graham, Gronkowski go back and forth with tight end yardage mark". NBC Sports. January 1, 2012. 
  17. ^ Ted Lewis, "Peyton Manning No. 1 on list of NFL’s top 100 players", The Advocate, July 9, 2014.
  18. ^ "Jimmy Graham bent the goalpost after scoring a touchdown". USA Today. November 21, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Video: Big Play Highlights — Graham wide-open TD". NFL. 
  20. ^ "What should Jimmy Graham's new touchdown celebration be?". The Times-Picayune. March 25, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Report: Saints TE Jimmy Graham fined $30K for goal post dunks". CBS Sports. August 22, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Jimmy Graham's touchdown celebrations cause rift with Sean Payton". The Times-Picayune. August 15, 2014. 
  23. ^ Patra, Kevin (March 1, 2014). "Saints slap Jimmy Graham with non-exclusive tag". NFL.com. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  24. ^ Vargas, Ramon (March 1, 2014). "Saints will hand franchise tag to Jimmy Graham before Monday deadline, he confirms". The Advocate. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  25. ^ Kevin Patra, "Jimmy Graham, Saints agree to 4-year, $40M contract", NFL.com, July 15, 2014.
  26. ^ Patra, Kevin. "Saints, Seahawks agree to Jimmy Graham trade". NFL.com. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  27. ^ Farnsworth, Clare (March 10, 2015). "Max Unger exits as Seahawks make trade for Jimmy Graham". Seahawks.com. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Graham out for season with torn patellar tendon". NFL.com. Retrieved 2015-12-02. 
  29. ^ "Jimmy Graham - Seattle Seahawks - 2017 Player Profile - Rotoworld.com". www.rotoworld.com. 
  30. ^ "NFL announces 2018 Pro Bowl rosters". NFL.com. December 19, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017. 
  31. ^ Knoblauch, Austin (March 13, 2018). "Packers to sign Jimmy Graham, cutting Jordy Nelson". NFL.com. 
  32. ^ "Packers sign TE Jimmy Graham". packers.com. March 16, 2018. 

External links[edit]