Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Brandon Graham heard the trade rumors earlier this offseason. He knew his time with the team that originally drafted him 13th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft might be finally over.
To some surprise, however, that trade never happened. Graham is still in Philadelphia and it looks like the Eagles are content with keeping him. Graham noted earlier in the offseason that he's glad to be an Eagle and he wants to end his career where it began. He echoed that sentiment again on Monday.
Graham: "When we first came back to minicamp, all the talk of 'He's going to get traded,' I thought I was going to get traded..."— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) August 25, 2014
"...before we got back. But they stuck with me and I feel like I owe this team and the fans a lot because I know stuff hasn't been going..."— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) August 25, 2014
"...the way it's supposed to as a first-rounder but I know I can play. A couple bumps but I feel like now it's time to take off."— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) August 25, 2014
One of that challenges that Graham still faces, however, is that he's not an ideal fit in the Eagles' defensive scheme due to his struggles in coverage. Graham even admitted as much on Monday afternoon.
Brandon Graham on tackling in space as OLB: "There’s been a couple times where I just looked bad. I’m not even ashamed to say that." #Eagles— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) August 25, 2014
Graham's prowess as a pass rusher just outweigh his weaknesses. According to defensive coordinator Bill Davis, Graham is "close" to veteran starter Trent Cole as being a complete outside linebacker. If true, Graham could push for more playing time this season.
Then again, it just might be another offseason story where a player promises to deliver but the on-field contributions don't materialize. It's truly a now-or-never moment as far as Graham's carer in Philadelphia in concerned. The 26-year old pass rusher is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2014 season. If Graham meant what he said about wanting to finish his career with the Eagles, this is the season to prove it.