In the first few moments after the Saints playoff loss, Brandon Graham sure sounded like someone who didn’t expect to be back with the Eagles.
“It has been a long road, it has been nine years,” he said at his locker at the Super Dome. “I do not have any regrets, I have enjoyed this time if it is the end.”
Turns out it wasn’t the end. Not even close.
What seemed so unlikely just a month and a half ago is now reality.
The Eagles and Graham agreed to a three-year, $40 million contract, and this fall Graham will begin his 10th season in an Eagles uniform.
I didn’t think I was going to be a part of it, not knowing what was going to happen. Don’t really know how they feel till they pay you or what they offer you. I’m just happy I’m still in the plans.
Graham said his agent and the Eagles split the difference between the team’s initial offer and his financial goal in free agency, and that got the unlikely deal done late Thursday night.
“Honestly, me and my family, we just love our situation here in Philly and for me I’ve done well with what I’ve been given already and saving my money so I wasn’t that far off from where I wanted to be with the Eagles and we end up making it work,” Graham said.
“I know that for me we built something here and I wanted to finish it out if, it made sense, and it ended up making sense … Could make good money somewhere else, but I want it to be a good fit schematically (and) Philly checks off all the boxes. I think for me it was a no-brainer.”
Graham, the Eagles’ first-round pick in 2010, has played in 127 games in an Eagles’ uniform, fourth-most in franchise history by a defensive lineman. If he plays 29 more games, he’ll replace friend and former teammate Trent Cole atop the list:
155 … Trent Cole [2005-2014]
148 … Kenny Clarke [1978-1987]
131 … Vic Sears [1941-1953]
127 … Brandon Graham [2010-2018]
126 … Hollis Thomas [1996-2005]
124 … Clyde Simmons [1986-1993]
121 … Reggie White [1985-1992]
Graham said he spoke with Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman at the NovaCare Complex the day after the Saints loss and left that meeting feeling like he had a chance to return.
Before I left, I end up talking to you guys then I talked to Howie and felt good leaving the room. I really still didn’t know how this thing was going to go, because I know how fast everything hits as soon as free agency starts, but I always wanted to check what Philly had to offer first, before doing anything. Once the Eagles and my agent were talking, they ended up (agreeing) in the middle.
Graham has 42 ½ sacks in his Eagles career, which isn’t a huge number for nine NFL seasons, but over the last five years he’s been one of the more consistent edge rushers in the league.
The next step for him? Graham said he’s driven by getting his photo up on the Eagles’ Pro Bowl gallery in the hallway at the NovaCare Complex.
But the 2017 Super Bowl defensive hero has another goal before he finally does hang ‘em up.
“Hopefully, I can carry out some of the things I already started and finish strong,” he said. “Hopefully with another ring and hopefully with another party down Broad Street.”
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