Brandon Graham

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Jackson

Entering another will-they/won’t-they draft regarding a first-round quarterback investment, the Giants have been setting up meetings with the top prospects. John Mara confirmed he wants the Giants to come away with a quarterback in this year’s first round, and the Giants now have two of the first 17 selections in this draft. But the owner will not force a need pick, despite how glaring the need is.

I would like to come out of this draft with a quarterback, but here’s the thing: Show me what the grades are,” Mara said, via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. “What’s the value?,” Mara said. “If the top quarterbacks are graded towards the bottom of the first round or even the second round, I’m not going to insist that we take one at No. 6 or even No. 17.”

Rumors have emerged about the Giants cooling on this year’s crop of quarterbacks, but that could change after visits and workouts. They are not looking to package their Nos. 6 and 17 picks to move up, either. Dave Gettleman does not believe a non-first-round pick will cut it as Eli Manning‘s successor, so this draft figures to be critical. But the 2020 class is, as of now, viewed as a better potential crop of passers, complicating Big Blue’s scenario.

The worst thing you can do is try to force the issue and then you end up with a quarterback that isn’t worth taking at the particular spot,” Mara said. “Would we love to have a quarterback coming out of this draft? Yes, but only if we have a conviction about him. And we’re not there yet.”

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Although Amari Cooper showed immense promise with the Cowboys, he has produced uneven work samples the past two seasons. Nevertheless, the Cowboys are committed and ready to discuss a high-end extension. The new deal for Antonio Brown and one that may be coming for Julio Jones have not fazed Dallas, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). The Cowboys were planning a re-up for the former top-five pick immediately after acquiring him, but after Cooper posted two 180-yard games (prior to three sub-35-yard showings), the negotiations figure to be more interesting.
  • The Cowboys’ glut of extension-eligible young talents likely steered them away from Earl Thomas. Their top bid was not going to contend with the Ravens’, Jerry Jones said (via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, on Twitter). Thomas signed a four-year, $55MM deal. The Cowboys are still looking at safeties.
  • It does not look like Brandon Graham will be moving inside as much in 2019. On passing downs, the Eagles want to deploy Malik Jackson as the interior sub-package pass rusher alongside Fletcher Cox, filling the Michael Bennett role, Howie Roseman said (via Philly.com’s Zach Berman, on Twitter). This adds up, considering Jackson has been an interior defender for most of his career. Having added Jackson and brought back Vinny Curry, the Eagles’ defensive line again profiles as one of the NFL’s deepest position groups.

Contract Details: Collins, Morse, Graham

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts from around the NFL:

  • Landon Collins, S (Redskins): Six years, $84MM deal, $45MM guaranteed. $15MM signing bonus, $6MM option bonus for 2024 (exercised between first and fifth of 2020). Deal includes $32MM guaranteed over the first two seasons. $5MM of his 2021 salary is guaranteed at signing. Salaries: $1MM (2019), $10MM (2020), $12.5MM (2021), $11.5MM (2022), $12.5MM (2023), $13.5MM (2024). All Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, and ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
  • Mitch Morse, C (Bills): Four years, $44.5MM, $26.5MM guaranteed (original story). Receives $19.5MM in 2019, $28.375MM in 2020. Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero.
  • Brandon Graham, DE (Eagles): Three years, $40MM. $23.5MM guaranteed. $12.5MM signing bonus. Salary: $1MM (2019), $10MM (2020). Team option for 2021: $13MM salary and $3.5MM option bonus. Twitter link via Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic.
  • Danny Amendola, WR (Lions): One year, $4.5MM. $4.25MM fully guaranteed. $250K in per-game roster bonuses, $1.25MM in incentives. Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
  • Tyler Kroft, TE (Bills): Three years, $18.75MM. $8.3MM guaranteed, $2.4MM signing bonus. Will earn $1.8MM salary in 2019, $4.45MM in 2020. Roster bonuses include $2.1MM (2019), $750K (2020), $750K (2021). Twitter links via Wilson and ESPN’s Mike Rodak.

Eagles, Brandon Graham Agree To Extension

Brandon Graham isn’t reaching the open market after all. On Friday, the Eagles agreed to a new three-year deal with the defensive end that will pay him $40MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

It’s a solid payday for Graham, who will bank north of $13MM per season on average. Meanwhile, he has a real chance to retire in Philadelphia. Graham will celebrate his 31st birthday in April, and the Eagles can safely focus on areas other than the pass rush later in the month.

Earlier this offseason, Graham indicated that he would probably test the open market rather than inking a new deal with Philadelphia before March. However, the Eagles came to the table with a deal that made sense for the veteran.

“I love Philly but I owe it to myself and my family to explore free agency,” Graham said in January. “I’m in the business of doing what’s best for my family. I need to explore the market.”

Graham, who’s been with the Eagles since 2010, inked a four-year deal with Philly in 2015. He’s discussed a potential extension on numerous occasions with the Eagles since then, but a fresh deal never came to fruition until now. The Eagles added extra incentives to his pact heading into the 2017 campaign, but did not otherwise amend his deal over the past four years.

Graham would have drawn serious interest in the open market, but he also would have been going up against a stacked free agent edge defenders group. Players such as Jadeveon ClowneyFrank ClarkDeMarcus LawrenceDee Ford, and Trey Flowers are all candidates for the franchise tag, but Graham got enough money to bypass the hassle of free agency and stay with the only NFL team he’s ever known.

Graham’s last deal paid him $6.5MM annually, so the new contract represents a substantial pay bump. While his sack total dipped to just four in 2018, Graham still managed to affect rival passers by generating 33.5 quarterback pressures and 11 quarterback hits. Pro Football Focus graded Graham as the league’s ninth-best edge defender last season, assigning him exemplary marks in both run and pass defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Brandon Graham To Explore Free Agency

Although he hinted earlier in the week that he’d accept less money to remain with the Eagles, defensive end Brandon Graham does plan to test the market, as he explained to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

“I love Philly but I owe it to myself and my family to explore free agency,” Graham said. “I’m in the business of doing what’s best for my family. I need to explore the market.”

Graham, who’s been with the Eagles since 2010, inked a four-year deal in 2015 that is set to expire in March. As Graham admits in his interview with PFT, he and Philadelphia have discussed a potential extension on numerous occasions since then, but no deal has ever come to fruition. The Eagles added extra incentives to his pact heading into the 2017 campaign, but did not otherwise amend his deal over the past four years.

If he does hit the open market, Graham could be joining a class of free agent edge defenders that’s overflowing with talent. However, players such as Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dee Ford, and Trey Flowers are all candidates for the franchise tag, meaning Graham could be one of the best pass rushers that’s actually unfettered come March. Graham earned $6.5MM annually on his last contract, and — given his continued production and the NFL’s rising salary cap — should be in line for a substantial pay bump in 2019.

Graham is entering his age-31 campaign, but his production hasn’t fallen off in recent years. While his sack total dipped to just four in 2018, Graham still managed to affect rival passers by generating 33.5 quarterback pressures and 11 quarterback hits. Pro Football Focus graded Graham as the league’s ninth-best edge defender last season, assigning him exemplary marks in both run and pass defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Rumors: Foles, Tate, Graham

Will the Eagles move on from Nick Foles this offseason? It sure sounds like it, based on what head coach Doug Pederson said in a Monday morning radio interview.

I can’t say enough good things about Nick,” Pederson said (via WIP). “For him to come here and be the backup behind Carson and then to do the things he’s done the last two years, like I said I can’t thank him enough. He’s a pro’s pro. He’s a great human being, great leader in the locker room. He’ll always be remembered in Philadelphia for bringing a Super Bowl to this city. So, a lot of great things for him and we’ve got these next few weeks, few months to make some tough decision, but we’ll make them at that point.”

Last April, Foles and the Eagles agreed to a reworked contract with a mutual option for the 2019 season. The Eagles can opt into the deal if they are willing to carry Foles’ $20MM salary, but the QB can instead choose to enter free agency if he repays a $2MM signing bonus to the club.

Right now, it sounds like the Eagles will let Foles fly away while moving forward with Carson Wentz.

Here’s more out of Philly:

  • Wide receiver Golden Tate told reporters that he took the most lucrative offer in his first trip through free agency when he left the Seahawks for the Lions (via Mosher). This time around, however, he says he’s looking to play for a winner. That may bode well for the Eagles’ chances of retaining him, though they are especially tight against the cap. Tate, 31 in August, had 30 catches for 278 yards and one touchdown after joining the Eagles in the middle of the season. He put up a 5/46/1 line against the Bears in the opening round of the playoffs but was largely a non-factor against the Saints on Sunday.
  • Pending free agent Brandon Graham won’t say it outright, but Eliot Shorr Parks of WIP (on Twitter) gets the sense that Graham would be willing to take a little bit less money to stay with the Eagles. Graham, 31 in April, had 39 tackles and four sacks in the regular season, numbers that are down from his strong 2017 campaign. Still, Graham graded out as the ninth-best edge defender in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, placing ahead of notables such as Demarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Justin Houston, and Olivier Vernon.
  • Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks confirmed that he has suffered a torn Achilles injury in Sunday’s loss to the Saints (Twitter link via Geoff Mosher). He’ll have a 6-8 month timetable for recovery after undergoing surgery, which may allow him to participate in training camp.

NFC Notes: Thomas, Bradford, Eagles, Reid

The Seahawks have indeed fined safety Earl Thomas, who missed practice for non-injury reasons for the second consecutive week. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Seahawks — who were considering imposing a substantial fine on Thomas last Sunday — fined the star defender for missing practice and for “other things.” Rapoport adds that “communication should increase going forward,” but it is presently unclear as to whether he is referring to communication between Thomas and Seattle or between Seattle and other clubs who may want to trade for Thomas. We heard earlier today that the Steelers were interested in Thomas, but there has been no communication between Seattle and Pittsburgh at this point.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds that the Seahawks are still asking for a second-round pick for Thomas, and that the Chiefs remain interested (though Kansas City does not want to give up a second-rounder). The Cowboys, of course, offered a second-round pick to Seattle earlier this year, but the Seahawks wanted more from Dallas at the time since the two teams were set to play each other last week. Now that the Cowboys-Seahawks matchup has taken place, perhaps the Seahawks will be more willing to consider the Cowboys’ offer, but Rapoport indicates (video link) that the Seahawks want two second round picks in exchange for Thomas, which seems like an especially lofty asking price.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Sam Bradford is now the Cardinals‘ No. 3 quarterback, per Schefter, who says that going forward, rookie Josh Rosen will be the starter and will be backed up by Mike Glennon (Twitter link). That means that Bradford will generally be inactive on game days and will miss out on his active roster bonuses of $312,500 per game, a situation we explored in more detail last week.
  • Another tough blow for Rams outside linebacker Dominique Easley. Per the team’s official website, Easley, who has suffered three torn ACLs since 2011, may be heading for his fourth surgery in the last seven years. Head coach Sean McVay said that Easley, who converted to outside linebacker during training camp, is suffering complications from his previous injuries.
  • Prior to signing him a few days ago, the Panthers did not ask new safety Eric Reid about his anthem protests or his collusion case against the league, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. GM Marty Hurney said team ownership was not involved in the signing, and that it was a purely football move.
  • Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery will make his 2018 debut today, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (via Twitter). Rapoport (video link) reports that Jeffery’s status for this week was up in the air because of a virus that made him seriously ill, but that his shoulder is good to go.
  • As Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes, the Eagles have four prominent starters playing out the final year of their respective contracts: Jordan Hicks, Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi, and Brandon Graham. Even if the Eagles wait until after the 2019 season to give quarterback Carson Wentz what will surely be a massive extension, Philadelphia has to plan for that contract now, which means the club will have some difficult decisions to make with respect to its impending free agents. McLane posits that Hicks is the most likely of the above-named players to be retained, and he examines the futures of all four players in detail.
  • Jane Slater of the NFL Network reports that Cowboys WR Terrance Williams will be inactive today, and that the recently re-signed Brice Butler will be leaned upon more heavily as a result (Twitter link). Williams, the most expensive receiver on Dallas’ roster, may be facing a suspension stemming from his May arrest and recently missed practice, though that absence was reportedly an excused one and was unrelated to the possible suspension. Williams, though, has just two catches for 18 yards this season, and the team wants to give someone else a shot.

East Notes: Allen, Cooks, Eagles

Bills fans are anxiously looking forward to the inevitable ascension of Josh Allen, and Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News takes a look at the team’s quarterback competition with training camp fast approaching. A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman know that, if either of them start the season under center — and McCarron is generally seen as the favorite to open the year as the starting signal-caller — they would just be keeping the seat warm for Allen. Carucci notes that Allen’s natural talent was on full display throughout spring practices, and he adds that all three competitors have developed a friendship during their time together. The Buffalo News scribe examines each player’s case to start on Week 1, and he notably does not rule out any possibility at this juncture.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Former Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks just inked a massive extension with the Rams, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says New England had a pretty good idea that Cooks, who was scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2018 season, was going to get that kind of money given the robust state of the wide receiver market. However, the Patriots just did not value him that highly and were approaching this year as though it would be Cooks’ last in Foxborough. So, when presented with the opportunity to get a first-round pick for him this offseason, New England pounced.
  • Earlier today, the Patriots signed No. 31 overall pick Sony Michel.
  • Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com takes a look at 10 Giants who are in danger of being cut because of their salaries, the status of their position groups, or some combination thereof. Dunleavy’s list is headlined by guard John Jerry and defensive end Kerry Wynn.
  • Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has made more trades than any other general manager since 2010, per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, who believes that Roseman will make more trades in the coming weeks. Shorr-Parks puts a potential return on each player on the roster, and he notes that Roseman would likely be open to moving Nick Foles and Brandon Graham, though it would take at least a first-round pick to acquire Foles and a third-rounder to land Graham.
  • In a separate piece, Shorr-Parks offers his take on the locks, longshots, and bubble players on the Eagles‘ roster as it currently stands. As Shorr-Parks has indicated previouslyRonald Darby is another trade candidate if De’vante Bausby continues to play well in training camp.

Extension Candidate: Brandon Graham

Last year, the Eagles tacked some incentives onto Brandon Graham‘s deal amidst rumblings that he was considering a holdout. Graham is once again pushing for an extension as he nears his walk year, but this time around, it’ll take more than an extra $1.5MM in performance bonuses to satisfy him. 

Graham is among the best 4-3 defensive ends in the game today, but his current salary does not reflect his performance. His average of $6.5MM/year on his current contract ranks 20th among 4-3 DEs, despite the fact that he graded out as the eighth-best overall edge defender in the league last year.

The veteran is coming off of a career-high 9.5 sacks and even iced the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory with his late-game strip sack of Tom Brady. Even though he celebrated his 30th birthday in April, he has plenty of juice as he sits across from GM Howie Roseman at the table.

Recently, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com predicted that Graham would not accept anything less than Everson Griffen‘s four-year, $58MM extension with the Vikings, which includes $18.8MM in full guarantees. Graham is 30, but Griffen is a few months older than him and is arguably the lesser player of the two, despite his 13 sacks in 2017.

The Eagles want to keep Graham in the fold, but their tight cap situation may limit how far they can go. A creative workaround for both sides may be to give Graham an even greater guarantee percentage than Griffen. After the Vikings gave Griffen a healthy 32.4% fully guaranteed at signing, the Eagles may be willing to push that number closer to 40% in order to shave some dollars off of the overall total. It wouldn’t be completely unprecedented – the Giants guaranteed $40MM of Olivier Vernon‘s $85MM free agent deal in 2016, which accounts for 47% of his deal.

Graham’s age and recent offseason ankle surgery may give the Eagles some pause about a hefty guarantee, but the former first round pick has not missed significant time since the 2011 season. There are worse bets to make, and a fat guarantee could give the Eagles the flexibility they’ll need to retain players like running back Jay Ajayi, cornerback Ronald Darby, and wide receiver Nelson Agholor down the line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Notes: Brandon Graham, Alshon Jeffrey, Johnston

While defensive end Brandon Graham is set to be a free agent at the end of the year, it doesn’t appear the Eagles are in any rush to lock him up, writes Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Shorr-Parks thinks it’s “unlikely that Graham gets a new deal before the season.” He adds that the ankle injury Graham is currently recovering from may play into the team’s reluctance to get something done this offseason.

Graham has been with the Eagles since he was drafted in the first round by the team back in 2010. Since then, he’s racked up 38.5 sacks, including 9.5 last season. He notably strip sacked Tom Brady in this year’s Super Bowl to help seal the Eagles’ win. Despite his Super Bowl heroics, Shorr-Parks say “all indications still point to Graham becoming a free agent next offseason” rather than receiving an extension.

Here’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Speaking of Graham, his status for week one remains unclear, according to Shorr-Parks. He had ankle surgery in April and is “still walking in a boot and using crutches to get around.” Teammate Alshon Jeffery, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, “seems to be a much safer bet to play in Week 1” writes Shorr-Parks, who adds “all indications are that he will be ready.”
  • The Eagles moved on from punter Donnie Jones this offseason and replaced him with second-year player Cameron Johnston. While the Eagles are happy with Johnston, who hasn’t attempted a regular season punt in his career, Shorr-Parks thinks it “wouldn’t be surprising” if the Eagles had a veteran punter on standby that they could sign in case Johnston falters this preseason.
  • In case you missed it, the Eagles have reportedly been impressed with backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld this offseason.

 

Latest On Eagles, Brandon Graham

Back in February, Eagles linebacker/defensive end Brandon Graham said he was pushing for an extension on his contract. Now on the cusp of his walk year, Graham says he is willing to play out the final year of his deal (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer). 

In 2017, Graham racked up a career high 9.5 sacks to go along with 47 total tackles. He also graded out as the eighth-best edge defender in the NFL with a 91.6 overall score from Pro Football Focus, nearly matching his 93.9 grade from 2016. Presumably, Graham is looking for a contract that will reflect his performance as one of the league’s top defensive ends.

Last year, the Eagles rewarded Graham with an extra $1.5MM in incentives for the final two years of his deal as a showing of good faith. His next deal will probably require a more substantial bump. Graham’s $8MM cap number for 2018, which ranks just 15th amongst 4-3 DEs in the NFL.

After dealing with a serious cap crunch this offseason, the Eagles will be wary of overextending themselves on a new deal for Graham. At the same time, they’ll run the risk of Graham pricing himself out of their range if he turns in another excellent season. In March, the Eagles watched defensive end Vinny Curry sign a three-year, $23MM free agent deal with the Bucs. Though Curry is a solid player in his own right, Graham stands to command considerably higher offers if he reaches the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.