The two athletic tight ends went to the Pro Bowl together in 2013, when the future Hall of Famer told Graham that as he got older, shedding weight should be a priority. Graham took that to heart this year, shedding 20 pounds to get from his 280-pound playing weight last year to 260.
"When I was younger, I could carry 270 around and run go routes, and it was no big deal," the Graham said during an interview on 710 ESPN, via Sheil Kapadia. "Now I'm getting a little bit older. I remember Tony Gonzalez told me, it was his last Pro Bowl, I had the honor of playing with him, and we were talking about weights and lifting and everything. He gave me some good gems. He said, 'The older you get, you've got to shave a little bit of weight. Just for your joints. Just to keep that burst and that bend in your body.' And he was very, very true."
Last season, Graham never looked right after suffering a season-ending patellar tendon injury in 2015. He still earned 923 yards on 65 receptions, but his six-touchdown year remained well below the production we became used to during his Saints' stint, when he averaged 10.2 TDs per season. Over the past two seasons, Graham caught just 36 percent of his red-zone targets -- dead last among qualifying tight ends -- which exemplifies the Seahawks' efficiency struggles in getting their big target in scoring positions.
Shedding the weight could help keep Graham healthy after breaching the 30-year-old mark. The tight end sees the arrow pointing up in his third season in Seattle.
"For me, it's almost a hundred times [better than last year]," Graham said.
"To be here all offseason, to be with Russ [Russell Wilson] out there in California for a bit, it's like night and day. Especially with pain and really just strength in my knee."
Most teams would have been thrilled with Graham's production in 2016, especially coming off a devastating injury. After slimming down, the tight end is primed to have his best season in Seattle.