'Hawks GM Schneider: Jimmy Graham will be back

As the Seahawks transition into a turbulent offseason, Jimmy Graham is the least of the organization's concerns.

The expensive tight end still has two years on his contract, but had the worst statistical season of his career (48-605-2) in his first year in Seattle. Questions arose about his future with the Seahawks when, following his season-ending injury, Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense began flourishing with historic productivity.

However, general manager John Schneider put those worries to bed during an interview with Seattle's KIRO-AM. When asked if he expected Graham to return next year, Schneider said quickly, "Yeah."

That confirmation came at the tail end of a conversation during which Schneider defended the tight end's sub-par production.

"I think people were a little hard on Jimmy," Schneider explained. "He kind of started going when our offense started going. I look at it as just part of our maturation offensively, like how we were coming together early in the season. I don't look at it like he wasn't the Jimmy Graham of old. You're talking about a guy who gets doubled and bracketed all the time. When you try forcing an offense, you try developing your offense around one person, that's where you run into trouble.

"I understand why people would say, 'Why didn't he come in here and just take the team to another level early on?' But I think the whole offensive unit we were just trying to find our way early on."

There is still a legitimate debate to have over what was the root cause of Seattle's slow start on offense -- Graham, Marshawn Lynch, the offensive line, Ciara -- which, in the end, cost the Seahawks a home game in the postseason. (In Graham's defense, he was present for Seattle's breakout win over the Steelers in Week 11, which ignited the late-season resurgence.)

Whether the tight end is producing at a rate that merits a $10 million salary is another question, one that Schneider hopes Graham answers emphatically in 2016.

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