On Graham And the Contract Talks

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

The Eagles are interested in re-signing Brandon Graham, and Graham genuinely wants to remain in Philadelphia. But the level of commitment on both sides to making it happen will be tested in the coming weeks.

As Geoff Mosher reported, the Eagles reached out to Graham’s camp to express their interest in re-signing the 26-year-old. While no formal offer was made, we’re told that the opening salvo by the Eagles was to the tune of four years, $24 million. That’s an average of $6 million per season. Graham’s camp is looking for something in the $7-8 million per year range.

While that might not seem like a huge gap to bridge, there are other factors – and more specifically, other Eagles players – to consider. Connor Barwin is playing at a Pro Bowl level and currently ranks fourth in sacks with 14.5. He signed a six-year, $36 million contract with the Eagles in 2013. Ever since the 2011 free-agency blunder, the front office has been very cognizant of how dollar allocation plays in the locker room. How can they justify Graham – to this point a part-time player – making more per year than Barwin?

Meanwhile, there seems to be a decent chance that Graham will able to fetch his desired payday on the open market. Pass rushers are typically in high demand and paid well. The fact that Graham has spent most of his time in Philadelphia in a reserve role will prevent him from striking a mega-deal but he’ll draw interest, particularly from teams that run 4-3 defenses that are in search of an edge rusher.

That’s another part of it: while Graham has adapted well to his new position, he’s a natural 4-3 end. Is it in his best interest to move to a system where he can just pin his ears back and rush the quarterback?

Then there’s the issue of playing time. Graham’s goal is to be a starter. Does he feel confident that the Eagles would put him in that role if he re-signed, even though he has received limited snaps during the majority of his time here? Or does his best chance of landing a starting gig lie elsewhere?

These are some of the factors that will be mulled over in the coming weeks as it gets closer to decision time.

While there is some logic to moving on, the fact remains that Graham is a fan of this city and this organization despite some bumps along the way. He wants it to work out, but understands it’s no guarantee.

“There’s a lot that comes into play, man. If we can get a deal done here and it’s nice, why not move forward here? I made this my home. It’s going to be tough after five years to have to leave,” he said. “I’m comfortable here. But who knows? You never know.”