Eagles edge defender Brandon Graham, who is eligible for free agency next month, will be seeking a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $30MM, with $20MM in guaranteed money, reports Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. Mosher tucks away this nugget in the middle of a larger look at the team’s key free agents and doesn’t cite a specific source, but states it definitively enough that it certainly appears to be more than just idle speculation.
On the surface, that might seem like an unrealistic asking price for Graham, who has been a backup for the Eagles for nearly his entire rookie contract. However, even though the former first-round pick hasn’t put up huge traditional stats, Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required) have loved his production. In 2014, Graham graded as the league’s third-best 3-4 outside linebacker, despite appearing in just 524 defensive snaps; in 2013, he saw even less playing time (331 snaps), but still ranked 15th among 42 qualified players at his position. Graham had his best season in 2012, per PFF, placing second among 4-3 defensive ends with a +30.1 grade in only 435 snaps.
Despite potentially being an underrated asset, landing a contract that features $20MM in guaranteed money still looks a little too ambitious for Graham. By comparison, only one player in last year’s free agent class (Branden Albert) signed a deal that included $20MM in fully guaranteed money. Perhaps Graham could achieve that goal of a $20MM guarantee if we also take into account salary guaranteed for injury only, but I don’t expect him to score a massive payday. This is the time of year when players’ asking prices often greatly exceed the actual prices on which they’ll eventually settle.
Still, as Mosher notes, Graham could be a player whose value will be “discovered” during next week’s scouting combine in Indianapolis, as team executives and agents come together for the first time this offseason. It’ll be interesting to see whether Graham draws significant interest from teams that view him as an every-down player, or if other clubs will also view him as a pass-rushing specialist, like the Eagles did — that would limit his overall stock. Considering he did his best work as a 4-3 defensive end before Philadelphia changed schemes a couple years ago, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 26-year-old pursued primarily by teams running a 4-3 defense.