After he entered last season with his future up in the air, Brandon Graham has gotten the chance to sit back and relax a little bit this offseason.
And he’s pretty excited about the players the Eagles have added on defense.
He’s especially excited about the addition of defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and what the defensive tackle could mean for him and the rest of the Eagles’ defensive ends.
Here’s what he told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark on Monday:
It’s going to bring [quarterbacks] right to us on the outside. Or they’re gonna try to take a hit in the middle. I do know that it’s gonna be a lot of quarterbacks trying to make sure they don’t get all that pressure in their face, so it’s going to open up a lot of stuff for me and [Derek Barnett] outside and Josh Sweat and those guys. I’m excited because it gives us a lot of opportunity outside. We just have to make sure we stay healthy, stay together and play together.
Last season, as starting defensive ends, Graham and Barnett combined for 15 sacks. Most of the season came with backup players next to Cox inside.
While Hargrave has played in a 3-4 defense during the first four years of his NFL career, the Eagles think he’s going to be a perfect fit in their aggressive 4-3 front. And pairing him with Fletcher Cox inside should be fun to watch.
After that, the Eagles still have Graham and Barnett at defensive end and former Pro Bowler Malik Jackson coming off a Lisfranc injury in 2019. Jackson will likely play some inside and outside in 2020.
After the Eagles already locked up Graham last offseason, Jackson signed a three-year deal with the Eagles early in free agency. But Jackson lasted just 32 defensive snaps before he went down with an injury.
“Malik is itching to get back out there to show what he can do,” Graham said. “I know, for me, if I was in that situation, I know I’d be like, ‘I’m gonna prove to these boys that I can still do it too.’”
Entering Year 11, assuming Jason Peters is really gone, Graham will be the longest-tenured player on the team and the second-longest tenured athlete in Philadelphia.
And now that Malcolm Jenkins is gone, Graham expects his role as a leader to grow even more in 2020. It’s something for which he’s ready.
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that,” Graham said. “I’m just going to let it happen naturally. I want to be authentic and whenever I feel a time to speak, I’m going to make sure that I speak.”
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