When Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez went to the Pro Bowl in 2013, Graham decided to seek out some advice from the future Hall of Famer about how to extend his own career.
One thing Gonzalez told Graham was to shed weight as he got older. That's something that Graham took to heart this offseason, dropping from his 280-pound playing weight during last season to 260 now.
"When I was younger, I could carry 270 around and run go routes, and it was no big deal," the Seattle Seahawks tight end said during an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle's John Clayton Show. "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 year was a grind for Graham. He was rehabbing from a ruptured patellar tendon injury and didn't even start jogging until June. The first contact Graham felt was in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins.
He said he rehabbed twice a day during the week and constantly was limited in practice. Everything Graham did was aimed at getting ready for game days.
He ended up playing in every game and finished the year with 923 receiving yards, third-most among tight ends. Now entering the final year of his deal, Graham feels primed for an even better season.
"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."
The focus for Graham and the Seahawks this summer has been on improved efficiency in the red zone.
But it's a good sign that Graham feels so much healthier, and he's in position to exceed his production from 2016.