This morning the Eagles announced the resigning of defensive end Brandon Graham to a three-year deal worth about $40 million dollars. The deal is said to be front loaded with the majority of the monies being paid out in the first two years of the deal. Graham had let it be known before he left town after the season, that he wanted to stay in Philadelphia and he would be willing to take less money to do so.
“Brandon is not only a special player, but a special person,” Eagles V.P. of Football Operations Howie Roseman said this morning on the NFL Network. “He fits us on and off the field. He’s the kind of player and person you want to invest in. All of us were just talking to him this morning about how excited he was to be back in Philadelphia.”
Roseman and the Eagles believe you start upfront when you build a great football team. Resigning Graham means the Eagles will return next year with Fletcher Cox, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett on their defensive line. That’s a good start.
The Birds had other reasons for resigning Graham. Let me spell some of them out for you.
One of the key reasons had to do with the fact that he can still play. He’s still a very productive player. Graham doesn’t rack up big numbers when it comes to sacking the quarterback, he had four sacks in 2018, but he pressures the guy with the ball in his hands more than nearly all the defensive ends in the league. Year after year Graham is amongst the league leaders in pressuring the quarterback. The former Michigan Wolverine and first round draft choice makes the quarterback move off his spot. He puts pressure on the quarterback by beating the blocker and forcing the passer to get rid of the ball. Many times Graham gets hits on the quarterback after forcing him to throw the ball away. This makes it difficult for a signal caller to get in his rhythm. Pro Football Focus ranked Graham fourth in the league amongst edge rushers with 70 quarterback pressures in this past season.
Another reason for resigning Graham is the fact that he is an all around defensive lineman, who plays the run as well as the pass. The 6’2″ 265 pound athletes gets off run blocks very well on runs inside and he does a great job of setting the edge against sweeps. He’s also a versatile defensive lineman, who can move inside and rush the passer from the defensive tackle position on passing downs. Graham was playing defensive tackle when he had the most important strip sack in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles, by stripping the great Tom Brady of the football late in the fourth quarter of the Birds Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots.
That’s yet another reason for resigning Graham. He makes big plays in big games. I could write about that strip sack of Brady again and again. I remember telling Brandon out on the field after the Super Bowl victory, that Eagles fans will never forget that play. He will be remembered forever by Eagles fans for that strip sack of Brady. When Brandon is old and gray, Eagles fans will still be talking about that play. That was last year, but Graham didn’t stop there. This post-season he totaled 1.5 sacks and a strip sack of Drew Brees, plus four quarterback pressures in the two playoff games the Eagles played. I think we can conclude that Brandon Graham makes big plays in big games.
Yet another reason for resigning Graham now is the fact that the Eagles did not want him to get to free agency. They were able to sign Brandon at a discount rate. Edge rushers are worth big money on the free agent market. Graham’s salary will average about $13.5 million dollars for the next three years. If he were to have made it to free agency, he would have probably been making $16 million a year. I think both sides are happy because the Eagles got him at a discount rate and Graham loves playing here in Philadelphia. He knows he’ll be playing for a team that has the chance to make another Super Bowl run.
The final reason the Eagles wanted to resign Brandon is because he is a fan favorite. His charismatic personality lights up a room. He loves playing the game and the enthusiasm he plays with is contagious. Brandon has fun playing in the NFL, whether it’s dealing with the media or facing the challenges of another tough opponent. He’s a great teammate and competitor. Everybody loves Brandon whether it be his teammates, the fans or the media. If you can’t get along with Brandon Graham, you can’t get along with anybody. No matter the day or the time, Graham is always wearing a big friendly smile.