Brandon Graham

NFC East Notes: Rudolph, Eagles, Cowboys

Kyle Rudolph is expected to undergo foot surgery soon, and he may be in for extensive rehab. The new Giants tight end is believed to be dealing with a Lisfranc injury, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets. The troublesome foot malady can be difficult to shake, but Rudolph expects to be ready for Week 1. This injury is similar to what Evan Engram dealt with in 2019. Engram underwent surgery to address his Lisfranc issue in December 2019 and was ready for training camp last year. Rudolph’s timetable is considerably more condensed, which likely led to the delay in the veteran tight end signing his Giants contract. Engram and Rudolph would give the Giants one of the NFL’s top tight end tandems, but the former’s injury history and the latter’s current issue cloud that situation to some degree.

Here is more from the NFC East:

  • GM Howie Roseman and Eagles scouts had differing opinions on which players to select with the team’s top two draft choices last year. The veteran GM and Eagles coaches’ preference for Jalen Reagor won out over the consensus scouts’ preference: Justin Jefferson. Roseman also veered from his scouts’ recommendation in Round 2, tabbing Jalen Hurts over safety Jeremy Chinn, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. The Eagles will bank on the latter move this season, having since traded Carson Wentz and seemingly signed Joe Flacco to back up Hurts. Chinn went to the Panthers at No. 64 — 11 picks after Hurts — and finished second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. Going to the Vikings one pick after Reagor, Jefferson finished second in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.
  • Frank Reich‘s future took a major turn in 2018, when Josh McDaniels‘ backtracking on his Colts commitment ended up re-routing the Eagles OC to Indianapolis. This came shortly after Reich played a key role in the Eagles’ first Super Bowl championship. Reich nearly saw his status change in 2017, however. A front office push for Reich’s firing existed, according to McLane, who adds Doug Pederson managed to save Reich’s job. In Wentz’s first season — a 7-9 Eagles campaign, which was also Reich’s first as Eagles OC — the team ranked 22nd in total offense. They rose to seventh in 2017, with Wentz finishing first in QBR. The Eagles, who promoted Mike Groh to replace Reich and then fired Groh after the 2019 season, have since hired Reich’s top Colts protégé (Nick Sirianni) as head coach.
  • Brandon Graham agreed to restructure his deal to provide the Eagles with additional cap space last month. Graham’s adjusted contract can be classified as a one-year extension, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweeting the new deal is worth nearly $20MM over two years. The Eagles converted Graham’s salaries into prorated bonuses, with the 11-year veteran set to earn barely $1MM in base salary in each of the next three seasons. The team tacked on three void years to the contract, per OverTheCap, which indicates each of Graham’s cap numbers over the life of this through-2023 contract are south of $10MM.
  • After hiring Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator, the Cowboys brought both Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee over from Atlanta. The latter’s deal will be worth the veteran minimum, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Kazee will count just $988K against the Cowboys’ cap. Attempting to return from an Achilles tear, Kazee will collect $250K guaranteed.

Eagles To Restructure Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson Contracts

The Eagles recently created some much-needed cap space by handing a new deal to center Jason Kelce and restructuring the contract of cornerback Darius Slay. Of course, the club still has plenty of work to do to get under the reduced 2021 salary cap, so the expectation is that right tackle Lane Johnson and defensive end Brandon Graham will soon see their deals reworked as well.

In fact, Geoff Mosher of InsideTheBirds.com says that Johnson has already agreed to a restructure, though if that’s true, we don’t yet have any details. Mosher confirms that the Eagles will address Graham’s contract situation, and speculatively, that could mean an extension as opposed to a restructure.

As Mosher observes, these contractual machinations are nothing new for the Eagles, but the difference this year is that executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has been forced to rework the deals of players who are on the wrong side of 30 as opposed to younger talent. So if those players should experience a sudden decline or suffer a major injury, it will be more difficult for Philadelphia to get out from under their contracts (see, e.g., Alshon Jeffery). But most expect the salary cap to spike in 2022, and Roseman, like many execs around the league, is banking on that becoming a reality as they navigate this year’s cap crunch.

Johnson, who will turn 31 in May, just agreed to a restructure at the start of the 2020 campaign, and his cap number for 2021 sits just shy of $18MM. He played in just seven games last year due to a painful ankle injury, but he earned Pro Bowl bids in each of the prior three seasons. Graham, meanwhile, has played in at least 15 games in each of the past nine seasons, and he is coming off his first career Pro Bowl nomination. The soon-to-be 33-year-old edge defender also has a 2021 cap number just under $18MM.

Kelce’s new deal does indeed include dummy years, according to Mosher. That allows the Eagles to spread out his $9MM in guarantees, but player and team would need to agree to yet another restructure if Kelce — who has previously flirted with retirement — wants to return to the field in 2022.

In other Eagles news, the club is moving defensive end Genard Avery to linebacker, as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk passes along. Philadelphia acquired Avery in a trade with the Browns in October 2019, but the 2018 fifth-rounder has seen limited defensive reps over the past several seasons. At just 250 pounds, Avery may have been miscast as a DE, and he will have a chance to remake himself as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

He compiled 40 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a first-year pro in Cleveland in 2018 but totaled just 18 tackles and two sacks over the following two years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Exercise Options On Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Others

The Eagles picked up Zach Ertz‘s 2021 option earlier today, but that wasn’t the front office’s only move. The NFL transactions report shows that the organization exercised the options on quarterback Carson Wentz, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, defensive end Brandon Graham, offensive guard Isaac Seumalo, and defensive lineman Malik Jackson.

As Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com writes, these moves were merely “procedural,” and similar to the Ertz move, they’re not all that surprising.

Jordan Dajani and Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports provide some helpful insight on these moves. For instance, Wentz’s option had to be exercised by today. Otherwise, his 2020 salary was set to jump to more than $30MM, and the remaining four years of his extension would be void. Instead, the quarterback will earn a $1.38MM base salary with a cap hit of $18.65MM.

The Jeffery move is a bit surprising, as the team was reportedly looking to move on from the wideout. On the flip side, the organization would have been hit with more than $16MM in dead cap by making the veteran a post-June 1st cut. Therefore, it’s not shocking to see the organization make a procedural move until they find a potential trade partner.

Per Dajani and Kerr, Graham will earn a $1.36MM base salary with a $6.28MM cap hit in 2020. Seumalo’s option bonus means the 2022-24 portion of his contract kicks in, while Jackson’s $2.4MM option bonus prevented his base salary from jumping to $10MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.