Eagles

Brandon Graham recovering from ankle surgery, likely to miss spring

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Brandon Graham recovering from ankle surgery, likely to miss spring

Another key Eagles player is on the mend after offseason surgery. 

This time, star defensive end Brandon Graham is recovering from ankle surgery and will likely miss the team’s spring practices, a league source told NBC Sports Philadelphia Tuesday. 

Graham is fully expected to be ready for training camp this summer, the source said. 

ESPN’s Tim McManus first reported the news and said Graham suffered a high ankle sprain on Christmas night against the Raiders. The surgery was to help along the healing process.

Graham, of course, became the hero during Super Bowl LII, when his huge strip sack of Tom Brady helped the Eagles seal the 41-33 victory in Minnesota. That means Graham pulled off one of the biggest plays in franchise history with an ankle injury. 

Graham is just the latest Eagle to have offseason surgery, along with Derek Barnett, Tim Jernigan and Alshon Jeffery.

Graham, 30, is entering the final year of his contract with the Eagles and hasn’t been shy about his ambition to get a new deal. In fact, signing Graham to an extension would probably help bring his salary cap number of $8 million down this season. 

It’s been a long time since Graham was once prematurely labeled a bust. The former first-round pick has come into his own in recent seasons and has grown into the Eagles’ best defensive end as a pass-rusher and run-stuffer. In 2017, he set a new career high with 9½ sacks. 

Ronald Darby’s goal is Week 1, knows he needs to stay healthy

Ronald Darby’s goal is Week 1, knows he needs to stay healthy

Ronald Darby tore his ACL on Nov. 11 against the Cowboys, so by the start of the 2019 season, he’ll be just about 10 months removed from the injury. 

His goal is to be ready to play.  

“My rehab is going great right now,” Darby said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon. “I’m hitting all the marks I need to. My goal is to be back by Week 1.” 

Darby, 25, recently signed a one-year deal to stay in Philadelphia. It’s really a one-year, prove-it deal for the talented young corner, who has missed 15 regular season games over the past two seasons. 

In 2017, Darby missed eight games with a dislocated ankle but returned for the playoffs. 

In 2018, Darby missed seven regular-season games and both playoffs games after tearing his ACL. 

On Tuesday, Darby said he thinks serious injuries in back-to-back seasons affected his value on the free agent market. In 2019, he’ll not only need to play well, but he’ll — more importantly — need to prove he can stay healthy. Darby played in 15 games as a rookie and 14 games in his second NFL season, both in Buffalo before the trade to the Eagles in 2017. 

Of course it’s been real frustrating. I never got hurt like this before until I got to Philly. So this was new. Everything was new to me. But I’ve been playing football since I was 8 years old. I’ve just got to have a healthy season. … This year, I’m gonna go out there, have a healthy season, compete and play hard.

If all goes well for Darby in 2019, he’ll be in line for a major contract this time next year. He said he would “love” to be back with the Eagles, but we’ll see where both sides of the negotiating table are after the 2019 season. 

“I always wanted to be back, of course,” Darby said. “It’s hard to walk away from a place like this.”

The move to bring back Darby was slightly surprising given that the Eagles seem to have a defensive back room stocked with young, cheap talent. But after they were decimated by injuries in 2018, they will at least have the luxury of depth for this coming season. In addition to Darby, they still have Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc under contract. 

Darby said he thinks the talent in the defensive backs room should breed a lot of competition. That would be ideal. But the Eagles are paying him like a starter, so he needs to be that for them in 2019. If he does, and if he can stay healthy, he’ll earn himself some serious coin this time next year. 

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DeSean Jackson’s 3-year deal includes manageable cap number in 2019

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DeSean Jackson’s 3-year deal includes manageable cap number in 2019

DeSean Jackson’s three-year contract with the Eagles is structured similarly to Malik Jackson’s deal, with an option bonus that alters the Year 2 base salary and two fake years that defer the cap hit, according to a league source familiar with the details of the contract.

Most importantly, it includes a manageable cap hit of just $3.164 million this year.

Because of the option bonus, Jackson’s deal can operate either as a two-year, $18 million contract or a three-year, $27 million deal.

The main component of the deal regardless of its duration is a $7.17 million signing bonus that Jackson receives now as part of $17 million in guaranteed money. 

There are also $400,000 roster bonuses each year from 2019 through 2021 payable as weekly $25,000 bonuses for each week he’s on the team. There are also $400,000 annual workout bonuses.

All the bonuses count against the cap except $100,000 of the 2019 roster bonus, which is considered not likely to be earned, since Jackson missed four games last year.

As a three-year deal, Jackson has base salaries of $1.03 million in 2019, $6.2 million in 2020 and $8.2 million in 2021, with cap figures of $3.164 million this year, $8.934 million next year and $10.934 million in 2021.

The contract includes a $2 million option bonus for 2021 that they would need to exercise in 2020. If they pay Jackson the bonus, it would remain a three-year contract and would add $500,000 in pro-rated bonus money per year starting in 2020.

If they decide not to pay the option bonus, the $2 million is added to Jackson’s 2020 base salary, increasing it from $6.2 million to $8.2 million.

In that event, his 2019 cap figure would remain $3.164 million, but his 2020 cap figure would increase $10.434, since it would include the entire option bonus as part of his new base salary.

In that case, Jackson would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season.

This contract structure essentially protects the Eagles from having to release players and give them a chance to gain compensatory picks by making them unrestricted free agents.

But it also protects the player because in the event he doesn’t get the bonus, he still gets the money.

The two fake years at the end of the contract serve to defer the cap hit beyond this year.  

The signing bonus pro-rates to $1.434 million per year, so if this ends up being a two-year deal, it adds up to $4.302 million in dead money in 2021 — three years worth of pro-rated signing bonus — and if it’s a three-year deal, it adds up to $3.868 million in dead money in 2022 — two years worth of pro-rated signing bonus ($2.868 million) and two years of the pro-rated option bonus at $500,000 per year ($1 million).

Jackson, 32, enters his 11th NFL season with 589 catches for 10,261 yards and 53 touchdowns. His 17.4 yards-per-catch is highest in the NFL in the last 25 years, and his 24 touchdowns of 60 yards or more are most in NFL history.

After spending his first six seasons with the Eagles, he spent three with the Redskins and two with the Buccaneers before the Eagles traded for him last week and gave him this new contract.

Jackson had one year remaining on his contract with the Bucs paying him $10 million for 2019.

In the trio of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Jackson, the Eagles are paying $22.16 million in base salary in 2019 with a combined cap hit of $27.27 million. 

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