Max Unger initially 'bummed' about trade to Saints

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport revealed that last week's stunning Seahawks trade for tight end Jimmy Graham began with a spark: Saints coach Sean Payton's fascination with Seattle center Max Unger.

Unger was Payton's original target in the swap, but the Pro Bowl pivot admits the deal caught him off guard.

"I've had so much invested in what's happened up here for so long, and to get a call like this out of left field, I was bummed," Unger told Seattle's KJR-AM, per "But at the same time, it's another opportunity to go somewhere I've never lived before and play for a team who has had a lot of success, and I've heard only good things about. So it's really about trying to be positive and just kind of pick up and play some good football still."

Said Unger: "It's nice to be wanted by another team who's really excited to have you."

The Saints see Unger as criticial in their transformation from a pass-happy aerial assault into a clock-chewing ground attack led by runners Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller. Unger is familiar with that run-first approach after blasting holes for Seattle's Marshawn Lynch since 2010.

The center told the station that he received a "heads up" from his agent roughly a week before the trade that he might be in for a change this offseason, something he had to explain to his wife, who is seven months pregnant and now facing a major relocation.

"The wives in the NFL, we put 'em through quite a bit, and then getting a cross-country move thrown into the equation seven months pregnant ... it can be a bummer," Unger said. "But my wife is the best, and she's dealing with it pretty well."

Unger's 2014 campaign was sideswiped by injuries, but Payton sees a player who can help right away with the makeover on offense. That New Orleans parted ways with a playmaker like Graham in return tells you just how serious the Saints are about their new direction.

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