Brandon Graham

Eagles To Re-Sign DE Brandon Graham

One of the Eagles’ many free agents has agreed to a deal that will allow him to stay with the team. The longest-tenured Eagle, Brandon Graham is coming back on a one-year agreement, Tim McManus of ESPN.com reports.

Graham is staying in Philly on a deal that could be worth up to $6MM. This will be the veteran defensive end’s 14th season with the team, putting him in rare company. Only Chuck Bednarik has previously played that many seasons with the franchise.

If Graham plays 11 games next season, he will have suited up for more contests than anyone in Eagles history. Though, Jason Kelce coming back would ignite a race to this honor; the acclaimed center is just two games behind Graham (178-176) in Eagles annals. Both are already in the top five in games played with the franchise.

With Graham going into his age-35 season, a lucrative free agency deal was unlikely to come to pass. That said, the former first-round pick was generating interest ahead of a potential trip to the market. Graham is coming off a career-best 11 sacks, helping the Eagles threaten the 1984 Bears’ single-season sack record. That was Graham’s first double-digit sack season; the rotational rusher will aim to tack on a second such campaign in 2023.

I definitely don’t want to miss out on this championship that we’re about to make a run for,” Graham said, via McManus. “I pretty much directed [my agent] Joel [Segal] just to get a deal done before free agency so I wouldn’t have to go through that part. I’m just so happy everything came to fruition.

It wasn’t even about no money. It was more about wanting to be an Eagle as long as I could still play at a high level, and of course I still have a sour taste in my mouth on how things ended this last year.”

The Eagles entered the offseason with three of their trench stalwarts — Graham, Kelce and Fletcher Cox — uncertain to be back. Kelce has not committed to playing a 13th season, and Cox is days away from free agency. Javon Hargrave is also on track to score a big payday next week. Graham will, however, rejoin a pass rush that still houses Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat. Derek Barnett is also under contract for 2023.

Graham said last year his goal was to reach the 15-season plateau, which would surpass Bednarik’s franchise mark. (David Akers holds the team’s games-played mark, at 188.) While the legendary two-way player’s place in Eagles lore is practically unrivaled, Graham is responsible for one of the Eagles’ signature plays. His strip of Tom Brady late in Super Bowl LII led to the Eagles’ first championship since their Bednarik-led 1960 title. Graham has remained a quality rusher in the years since that momentous sequence, and this agreement will supply depth for the defending NFC champs at the very least.

Friday’s agreement does represent a notable pay reduction for Graham, who previously played out a two-year deal worth $18.5MM. It could certainly help the Eagles retain some of their free agents. T.J. Edwards wants to stay with the team, which also aims to bring back C.J. Gardner-Johnson. While some of the Eagles’ UFAs-to-be are likely leaving — most notably Hargrave and James Bradberry — others could be brought back. Graham’s agreement would also leave some money on the table for Kelce to return.

For his career, Graham has 70 sacks and 21 forced fumbles. The sack number sits fourth in Eagles history. The starter/rotational performer sits six behind Clyde Simmons for third on that list.

Brandon Graham Generating Interest

Defensive end Brandon Graham will soon be a free agent, and though he will turn 35 next month, a number of teams are interested in his services, as Tim McManus of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). Graham, who has been a member of the Eagles since he was drafted by the club in the first round of the 2010 draft, would prefer to finish his career in Philadelphia but is willing to move on if he can land a larger contract elsewhere.

An Achilles tear limited Graham to just two games in 2021, which made his 2022 performance particularly remarkable. In his age-34 season, the Michigan product tallied a career-high 11 sacks as a key part of the Eagles’ league-best pass rush, and Pro Football Focus also assigned him a solid 69.7 overall grade for his efforts against the run. In all, PFF considered him the fifth-best edge defender among players with enough snaps to qualify.

Snap count, however, could be a factor in Graham’s negotiations with interested clubs. His performance in 2022 was doubtlessly aided by the fact that the Eagles could keep him fresh, having deployed him in only 43% of their defensive plays (as opposed to snap rates between 69% and 76% in each of his prior six healthy campaigns). It stands to reason that, at this stage of his career, Graham would be utilized as more of a rotational player, which is perhaps why Spotrac projects him to land a one-year deal worth a fairly modest $5.7MM.

Still, there is plenty of need for rotational defenders with the ability to get after opposing quarterbacks, and just about every team could use such a player if the price is right. Per McManus, the Browns are among the clubs with interest in Graham, which makes sense given the recent tension between Cleveland and Jadeveon Clowney, who is also set to hit the open market. The Browns may also be an attractive landing spot for Graham, who would have the opportunity to line up opposite two-time First Team All-Pro Myles Garrett.

Philadelphia came up just short in its quest for a second Lombardi Trophy, and the team has plenty of high-profile contributors eligible for free agency, including Javon Hargrave, C.J. Gardner-JohnsonJames Bradberry, and Miles Sanders. GM Howie Roseman, who will also be navigating extension talks with QB Jalen Hurts, has acknowledged that he will simply be unable to retain all of his pending FAs (Twitter link via Zach Berman of The Athletic). One wonders if Roseman will prioritize another contract for an aging, albeit productive, player like Graham.

Eagles Rumors: Dickerson, Berry, Free Agents

In a pileup during the Eagles’ NFC Championship win over the 49ers, guard Landon Dickerson suffered a hyperextension of his right elbow in the fourth quarter and was forced to leave the game. After an MRI of the injury came back negative for any serious damage, it is expected that Dickerson will be able play in the Super Bowl next Sunday, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dickerson will likely need to wear a brace on the injured elbow through practices and probably in the big game, as well. The Eagles subbed in former first-round pick Andre Dillard when Dickerson was forced to exit last week. Dillard will presumably be prepared once again, in the event that Dickerson aggravates the injury any time before the final whistle of the season.

Here are a few more rumors concerning the NFC’s Super Bowl representatives:

  • Philadelphia is expecting to make an addition to their front office after the season, according to The Athletic’s Zach Berman. Following the 2023 NFL Draft, Adam Berry is expected to be joining the team, working with the personnel and operations departments. Berry, the twin brother of Browns general manager and executive vice president of football operations Andrew Berry, is a managing director at Goldman Sachs who will be making the leap to the NFL. His brother, Andrew, has been with the Browns for six of the past seven years with a one-year stint in Philadelphia as the vice president of football operations. Berry will join his brother’s former franchise and “will be learning all facets of…football operations.”
  • Win or lose, after this weekend the Eagles will have to turn towards next season, where there’s a chance the team will look vastly different than it currently does. Starters such as defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, and center Jason Kelce all are currently destined for free agency in the offseason, and veteran right tackle Lane Johnson could be mulling the decision to hang up his cleats. McLane seemed to imply in his recent report that the likeliest scenario in which these four aren’t Eagles next season would be if they all retire. He seems to believe that, if they all desire to return to Philadelphia, the team will make it happen.

Eagles DE Brandon Graham Discusses Future

Brandon Graham is coming off an Achilles injury that limited him to only one-plus game last season. Naturally, the injury has led to questions about the defensive end’s future in the NFL, but the veteran made it clear that he’s still got something left in the tank.

“I’m here right now, I’ve got another opportunity,” Graham said during an appearance on JAKIB Media’s “Sports Take” show (via Adam Hermann of NBC Sports Philadelphia). “It’s the last year on my deal, they’re gonna honor me for this year, and whatever role it is man just enjoy it. Because you didn’t have football last year, you had time with the kids, and you still got one year left of the football if that’s what you choose to do. And I’m like, man, I’m about to enjoy it.”

Graham also mentioned playing three more seasons, which would mean he intends on playing 15 total professional seasons. Of course, considering the veteran’s track record, that’s not out of the realm of possibility. Prior to the 2021 campaign, Graham had only missed a single regular season game since the 2012 season. He’s also managed to remain productive; he actually earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2020 after finishing with 46 tackles and eight sacks.

While 2022 will be his age-34 season, Graham sounds confident that he can return to full strength. And if the Eagles aren’t willing to keep him on the roster beyond this upcoming season, the defensive end believes he can still be productive elsewhere.

“You know what? I would,” Graham said when asked if he’d be willing to play elsewhere. “But it would only be probably for a year. The kids are together right now and they’re settled, so that always – I know they wouldn’t up and leave right away – so being away from them and the family, that would only probably last a year. We’d see how it works out, but I’d probably end up playing 14 [years] instead of 15. My goal is to finish on 15 if I could, as an Eagle.”

The 2010 first-round pick has spent his entire career in Philly. He signed a one-year extension with the organization last offseason that would keep him with the Eagles through the 2022 campaign.

NFC Rumors: Gronkowski, Bears, Dean, Graham, Lions, Patterson

In an interview with Sports Illustrated last weekend, free agent tight end Rob Gronkowski was asked about the potential for his return. In reality, the question and answer were played off a bit as a joke.

The reporter specifically asked Gronkowski if he would return should Tampa Bay sign retired wide receiver Julian Edelman. Gronkowski didn’t hesitate to commit to returning for a full season alongside Edelman were that to occur. Realistically, if Gronkowski is to return for another season with the Buccaneers, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones expects that decision to be made after minicamps.

Here are a few more rumors from around the NFC, starting with a rumor out of the Windy City:

  • In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bears heavily addressed their offensive line, drafting four offensive linemen and signing one more undrafted free agent lineman. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune expects the team to continue trying to add to the group, saying that they should be on the lookout specifically for “an experienced option to compete for the right guard job.” Biggs also expects Chicago to target veterans at defensive line and wide receiver over the next few weeks.
  • New Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean was expected to be a first round pick during last month’s Draft. Dean was the victim of one of the least predictable slides of all time, falling down to the third round of the Draft due to concerns over his health. Well, according to EJ Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dean has been a full participant in the team’s rookie minicamp, making an effort to disprove the notion many teams held that he would potentially miss his entire rookie season with a pectoral injury.
  • Two games into the 2021 NFL season, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham suffered a season-ending tear of his Achilles tendon. Well, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com, Graham says he feels like the injury never even happened. He will return to the field with no restrictions this preseason. This wouldn’t be the first time Graham has made a full recovery from a long-term injury. He tore his ACL 13 games into his rookie season. Despite the serious injury, Graham has become the impact player he is today, the same player he is expecting to be this upcoming season.
  • Two Thursdays ago, the Lions were more than happy to walk away from the 2022 Draft with the hometown defensive end from Michigan, Aidan Hutchinson. If things had not worked out so perfectly for Detroit, though, and Hutchinson had been told to pack his bags for Duval, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reports that the Lions would have selected the player Jacksonville actually did select, Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker.
  • Falcons wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has always been a bit of a swiss army knife. He has made impressive plays in the kick and punt return games and, while performing mainly as a wide receiver for most of his career, Patterson has displayed the ability to run the ball when required, as well. After signing to join the Falcons last year, Patterson was asked to run the ball more than ever before, serving as Atlanta’s top rusher in terms of both attempts and yards. Well, Michael Fabiano of Sports Illustrated quoted ESPN’s Michael Rothstein stating his belief that Patterson will return to his primary position, expecting the 31-year old to spend more time at wide receiver than running back next year. Whether this would be a result of offseason additions like free agent signing Damien Williams or newly drafted Keaontay Ingram or if Patterson just requested a return to his natural role, Patterson is expected to take fewer snaps at running back next season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/21/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

  • Signed: T Jackson Barton (off Giants’ practice squad)

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Torn Achilles For Eagles’ Brandon Graham?

The Eagles believe that defensive end Brandon Graham has suffered a torn Achilles (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). He’ll undergo additional testing tomorrow to confirm, but team doctors are pretty sure about this one.

Graham was forced out of Sunday’s game against the Niners and the Eagles went on to lose 17-11. Even though they can turn to accomplished veteran Ryan Kerrigan and Josh Sweat, it’s still a bad blow to the Eagles’ pass rush.

Terrible. He’s one of the best humans, best guys I’ve played with. He’s the heartbeat of this team,” longtime teammate Lane Johnson said (Twitter link via Josh Tolentino of the Philadelphia Inquirer).

Graham, who’s been with the Eagles since 2010, inked a three-year, $40MM extension with the Birds in 2019. He delivered some of his best work last year, notching eight sacks and 46 stops en route to his first — and long overdue — Pro Bowl nod. Unfortunately, his Achilles tear will effectively wipe out his 2021 season. And, after this year, he’ll be out of contract.

The Eagles are also awaiting word on Brandon Brooks‘ chest injury. The early word is that it’s a torn pec (Twitter link via RapSheet), but the guard’s availability will hinge on the severity of the tear. If it’s only a partial tear, the Eagles could see him back on the field before the season is through.

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.

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.