January 14, 2019
When you're in the same room with Brandon Graham, you know it.
He's one of the loudest, most light-hearted and fun players in the Eagles entire locker room, and has been ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft.
Only, he may not be in the Eagles' locker room ... ever again.
A free agent when the new league year begins, the 30-year-old from Michigan will have the opportunity to make bank on the open market — a market that tends to value outside edge rushers. And though Graham has never been one to fill a stat sheet (he had four sacks in 2018), he is one of the best pass rushers in terms of pressuring quarterbacks in football.
The Eagles, who are currently projected to be well over next year's salary cap limit, will not be able to pay Graham as handsomely as some other teams.
"I understand where I’m at," Graham said, relishing being the center of attention in what could be his final official media appearance as an Eagle. "I aint going to be silly, I only have so many years I can do this but if it's two million off from somebody else, obviously I’m going to stay where I’m at. I feel like people know me here, that’s what I mean when I say, 'Is it worth going somewhere else? … I know I am happy here."
Graham wouldn't say the actual words, but it sounds like he's willing to take a hometown discount — like he did when he was a free agent the first time a few years ago — to stay in the city that drafted him.
"Am I willing to take less to be here?… All I am going to say is we will figure it out. People know I love Philly. My first priority is to make sure we can work something out. I respect that they drafted me here — Howie [Roseman], I was his first guy."
Roseman will have a full slate of brutally tough decisions, as guys like Nick Foles, Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Jordan Hicks, Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi and a lot of others will be up for renewal this offseason. Luckily for Graham, who is optimistic about a return, he is as beloved in his locker room as he is in the Philadelphia media.
"BG has been my locker mate for seven years man," said Fletcher Cox, another of Howie's successful first round picks. "Since they day I got here we’ve been locker mates. I’d miss him a lot. We’ve played a lot together, won a Super Bowl together, we went through tough times together. We went through so many situations, man... We know we are all renting these lockers — my day will come, you never know when."
Even Zach Ertz, who plays on the other side of the ball, is campaigning for Graham to return.
"We have a lot of guys whose contracts are coming to an end," Ertz said Monday. "A guy like Brandon Graham, I have been his teammate for six years now I love the guy to death. Jordan Hicks [is] one of my best friends here. Foles, you never know what’s going to happen with him…. The character of those guys is a large reason why we have been successful, they will be great players whether or not they’re here but I hope they’re here."
Regardless of if Graham puts on an Eagles jersey and plays here again, this won't be the last Philly sees of the 2016 second team All-Pro DE, who has 42.5 career sacks. He already foresees his second career behind a TV camera.
"You've got to take advantage of what we did here, the connections we’ve made," he said. "I am going to continue loving on Philly and I want that same love coming back. When I hear from guys like [Brian Dawkins], guys who come back, they always say, 'Why leave?'
"Philly is my home, when I am done, it’s a no brainer."
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