Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham remains the heart and soul of the engine room. He recorded a career-high 11 sacks in 2022 in what may have been his swan song in a midnight green jersey. If it was, Graham cemented his spot in the Eagles Hall of Fame and, maybe, he’s not done yet.
The one-time Pro Bowler will turn 35 on April 3 and has no intentions of quitting. Graham told CBS Sports’ Zach Gelb he’s “definitely playing” in 2023, adding that he told his wife he has a “couple more years” left in the tank. When asked if Super Bowl LVII would be his final game, Graham responded: “Nah, man.”
Then, the former first-round pick out of Michigan elaborated: “We don’t know my future because I’m on a one-year deal. She [his wife, Carlyne] knows I want to play a couple more years. Who knows what will happen, I’m hoping everything works out, but I’m definitely playing.”
For those looking for additional clues about Graham’s future, take a look at what the 265-pounder told reporters immediately after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs on February 12. He used the word “comeback” when describing his emotions walking off the field, perhaps an indication that the Eagles want to bring him back.
“Boy, it stings. You can taste it. You can feel it,” Graham said. “All we had to do was make a play on defense. We’re all together, but we know that it sucks that we couldn’t get off the field and make a stop for the offense, because the offense put us in a position. They just got us in the end. All credit goes to Kansas City. They had a great year. We’re just going to feel this one for a minute, but it will definitely make me stronger for this comeback.”
What Would Graham Cost the Eagles in Free Agency?
Everyone knows the tangled web of contracts that Howie Roseman has to start straightening out. Jalen Hurts appears to be the top priority, especially as news leaked out about the Eagles slapping the franchise tag on C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Philadelphia has 19 unrestricted free agents, plus one exclusive rights free agent.
Graham is the longest-tenured player on that list (yes, including Jason Kelce) and it’s hard to imagine the team throwing too much money at him in free agency. They have been linked to several edge rushers in April’s NFL draft, plus Derek Barnett is expected back from injury and he’s still under contract.
But, if the team wanted to bring Graham back, there is a chance he could accept a team-friendly deal. Spotrac projects his worth at $5.7 million annually. That would be a bargain rate for a player whose leadership cannot be overstated. For comparison: Graham would be making $8.2 million less than Cam Jordan, a fellow 34-year-old pass rusher with 2.5 fewer sacks.
Gardner-Johnson Ready for Franchise Tag
C.J. Gardner-Johnson will receive the franchise tag if a long-term deal cannot be reached, according to multiple reports. The hard-hitting safety tied for the NFL lead in interceptions (6) despite missing five games with a lacerated kidney. He balled out, switching between safety and nickel cornerback during his first season in Philly.
So, what is the current rate for an impact safety on the franchise tag? It’s estimated at $14.46 million. The deadline for slapping tags is March 7.