The Philadelphia Eagles officially announced they’ve signed Brandon Graham to a three-year contract on Friday morning! Here are some thoughts on this deal and what it means moving forward.
1 - BLG is here to stay and that’s great
It’s so awesome that we won’t have to see Brandon Lee Graham leave Philly this offseason. That would’ve been so sad.
Graham will forever be an Eagles legend for making THE biggest play in franchise history by strip-sacking Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII. I can’t stress enough how life-changing that play was. We all knew Brady was going to lead a comeback when the Patriots got the ball late in the fourth quarter. We had already seen that story countless times before. But nope! Graham slayed the seemingly invincible dragon. And he made us lose our minds in the process. I’ll never forget the sheer, uncontrollable joy I experienced when that fumble happened. I’m typically a pretty stoic person but that play had me yelling and screaming “OH MY GOD!” over and over.
Even putting that play aside, which is hard to do, Graham is just a great guy to have on the team. He brings a real positive energy to the locker room and he’s a valuable veteran leader. It’s easy to be happy that he’s potentially going to finish his career with the Eagles.
2 - The contract is reasonable
So, let’s talk terms. Graham’s deal is reportedly worth $40 million over three years, which comes out to about $13.3 million per year.
Is that an overpay? I don’t think so.
Spotrac projected Graham to earn around $16 million on the open market. Graham’s current annual value ranks 15th out of all NFL edge rushers. And that’s before the following free agents receive big money deals this offseason: DeMarcus Lawrence, Dee Ford, Trey Flowers, Frank Clark, Za’Darius Smith, Ezekiel Ansah, Preston Smith, etc. Once those players get paid, Graham’s annual value will probably rank outside the top 15.
3 - Sacks aren’t everything
Some will ask: why is Graham getting this much money after only having four sacks and 11 quarterback hits in 2018?
The answer is: sacks aren’t everything.
Graham’s pressure numbers from last season were still good. His 70 total pressures ranked fourth out of all edge rushers in 2018, per Pro Football Focus.
Let’s also note that Graham wasn’t at 100% heading into the 2018 season. He had offseason ankle surgery in mid-May and missed most of preseason/training camp. There’s reason to believe Graham’s sack total will rebound after having a full offseason to gear himself up for 2019.
4 - Graham should age well
Graham turns 31 in April but his age shouldn’t be a huge concern.
First of all, look at how productive Michael Bennett and Chris Long — who are both currently 33 years old — have been for Philly.
Next, consider that Graham might have more tread on his tires than other players at his age. Graham didn’t become a full-time starter until the 2015 season. He also plays in a Jim Schwartz system that features a heavy rotation at defensive end.
And it’s not like Graham is a speed rusher who could greatly suffer from losing a step in old age. He’s more of a power rusher and I think that style ages well.
5 - The Eagles are spending a lot of money at defensive end
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pass rushers are a premium in the NFL and we all know how much Philly values building through the trenches.
Let's say Graham has hits of $13M the next two seasons.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) March 1, 2019
M. Bennett has cap hits of $7.2M and $8M (all non-guaranteed)
D. Barnett: $3.5M, $4M
J. Sweat: $1M, $1M
PHI is paying their EDGE stable about $24.5M next season, and $26M in 2020.
That's a lotta dough, team.
Solak’s numbers here don’t even account for Chris Long, who is set to make $5.6 million in 2019 ... assuming he doesn’t retire.
It remains to be seen if bringing Graham back impacts what happens with Long and/or Bennett. As of right now, there’s been no indication that it will. Hopefully they’re all back because that’s a pretty strong pass rush group for the Eagles to work with.
6 - The Eagles are going to need to free up some more cap space
Again, nothing we didn’t already know, but the Eagles are going to need to free up some funds to make other moves this offseason ... especially after paying Graham.
7 - Eagles fans are happy
Keeping BLG is looking like a popular move.