Eagles

Eagles reportedly working to restructure Brandon Graham’s contract

Eagles

In an effort to keep Brandon Graham and reduce his salary cap hit for the 2021 season, the Eagles are reportedly working on restructuring his contract.

Graham, who turns 33 next month, is coming off the first Pro Bowl season of his 11-year NFL career but carries with him a salary cap figure of $17,928,000 for this coming season.

So it appears like there’s an opportunity for the Eagles to extend one of their best and favorite players but also reduce his 2021 hit as they try to become cap compliant before the new league year begins on March 17.

Veteran reporter Derrick Gunn first reported that the two sides have been in talks.

While keeping and extending Graham might seem counterintuitive for a team in a rebuilding phase, Graham is still playing at a high level, is a high character guy, a positive leader and a great example for his young teammates. Even rebuilding teams need older veterans and Graham is one of the best the Eagles have. Aside from his character and leadership, Graham still played at an extremely high level in 2020.

And it certainly seems like the 2010 1st-round pick is committed to playing in Philadelphia.

Here’s what he recently told TheAthletic’s Zach Berman:

“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Graham said by FaceTime on Tuesday. “I know I don’t have long, but I know for me, I’m here in Philly. So when I’m (retired, I’m) either going to be working here or doing something in Philly to stay connected to the team.”

 

Assuming the Eagles move on from Jason Peters this offseason, Graham will be the longest-tenured Eagles player and the second-longest-tenured athlete among the four major sports teams in Philadelphia behind just the Flyers’ Claude Giroux.

During the 2020 season, Graham said he wanted to play 15 seasons in the NFL. After 11 years, he has played in 159 career games as an Eagle; he’s just 30 games away from surpassing David Akers (188) for first-place in franchise history. This is a real mark Graham could reach by the end of the 2022 season.

Even if the Eagles wanted to cut Graham and move on this offseason, because of the structure of his contract, it would offer them just a minimal cap savings immediately. And the Eagles need immediate cap savings.

In 2021, Graham has a base salary of $13,000 but his cap hit of nearly $18 million also includes nearly $6 million in prorated bonuses. The easiest way for the Eagles to save cap space this year is to offer Graham a lump sum of money in a bonus and decrease his base salary in a somewhat modest extension. The cap hit for signing bonuses prorate over the length of the contract, allowing the Eagles to backload some of the money for greener salary cap pastures in a post-pandemic world.

Because Graham already has three dummy years on his current deal (for cap purposes), the Eagles will need to be a little more creative. But in this case it helps that the team and player clearly want to work together to keep him in Philly.

Expect this to be one of several salary cap-motivated moves the Eagles will make over the next couple of weeks before the start of the new league year.

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