With all the focus the past few weeks on who the Eagles might bring in to fill some of the roster gaps due to injuries, there’s been a lot of attention on who is available now.
But, elsewhere, people are already looking at what the free agency market is going to be like in 2019. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, along with NFL Nation, released their Top 25 2019 NFL free agents, including their predictions for who gets re-signed or ends up elsewhere.
So, who’s the top free agent from Philadelphia? Defensive end Brandon Graham, of course.
24) Brandon Graham — Prediction: The Eagles will let him walk. There are no contract talks going on between the Eagles and Graham, per a league source, following some dialogue a few months back. He could test free agency. That wouldn’t guarantee his departure -- Graham loves it in Philly, and the Eagles might get serious about keeping Graham after looking around at the pass-rusher landscape -- but the 2010 first-round pick, who has 39.5 career sacks, could end up being valued higher elsewhere. — Tim McManus
We all knew this conversation was coming. Graham is playing on the final year of his 4-year, $26 million contract, and has been looking for a new deal since the offseason.
It’s interesting that ESPN’s list includes a note that Graham and the Eagles haven’t continued their contract talks since this summer — it’s not exactly like the team is having a stellar start to the season, and you’d imagine (read: hope) that they’re focusing on the now, and not on free agency.
Either way, Graham is currently the fifth highest paid player for the organization, and with an $8 million cap hit, sits at No. 21 among defensive ends throughout the league. Which means the Eagles are paying him a lot, but not compared to what others are earning — Calais Campbell of the Jaguars is No. 1 at $17.5 million, and all three of the top paid DEs earn over $17 million.
Graham isn’t a young buck anymore though, and while the top few earn close to $20 million, the guys just outside the Top 10 in their position — and closer to 30 years old — earn about $9-10 million, which is probably where Graham would land.
Back in June, the defensive end said, “We’ll get [the contract] done however it go. I’m 30 years old and I understand this is a business, too. But I got to keep showing them that I’m just going to keep taking it up and go out on my terms.”
After spending part of the offseason rehabbing, Graham was back in time for Week 1, and so far this season has nabbed 16 total tackles and claimed his first sack in Week 5 against the Vikings. It hasn’t exactly been the type of production we were used to from the DE last season, but he’s still taking a considerable number of snaps each week in the rotation.
The good news for the Eagles, is that there are a lot of talented defenders heading into free agency next spring— like Ezekiel Ansah, Frank Clark, and Trey Flowers —, and hopefully a loaded pool of DEs means a lesser market for Graham.
Don’t get me wrong, I want Graham to make his money, just preferably Eagles money and not so much that it leaves the team in a tight cap situation. (Is that too much to ask?)