Brandon Graham is officially staying in Philadelphia. Graham, a Super Bowl LII hero, signed a three-year extension worth $40 million that will likely make him an Eagle for life.

After the announcement on the signing, Graham said the following:

“My family and I, we didn’t want to go anywhere else, so to get this done, that’s the best feeling. I’m over here smiling ear to ear. I didn’t want to leave and I’m not leaving. This is where I want to be. I’m so excited, man.”

Graham was one of many Eagles players set to hit the free agent market, and some had previously said it was unlikely the team would be able to retain him. However, after months, and even years, of discussions between Graham and the Eagles organization, the 30 year old defensive end has re-signed before he was even able to test the open market.

With Graham staying in Philadelphia, he says there is still plenty to goals to fulfill.

“I’ve got a lot of things I want to accomplish. I want to get on that wall at the NovaCare, I want to do something big in Philly. Right now, I’m just excited because we get to go back and compete. We’ve got unfinished business together as a team,” said Graham.

Graham will get paid an average of $13 million per season, which may actually turn out to be on the cheaper side when all is said-and-done this offseason. A slew of quality defensive ends were set to hit the open market, and all of which were anticipated to get paydays well north of what Graham ended up receiving.

DeMarcus Lawrence is expected to be one of a few elite defensive ends to get franchise-tagged, which has a value of more than $17 million for 2019. In free agency, players such as Dee Ford and Trey Flowers are anticipated to receive long-term deals that pays at least $15 million annually. Graham is one of the older players out of that bunch, but the fact that the Eagles could retain him at a price lower than what he likely would have gotten in free agency is huge.

Some were concerned with Graham’s drop in sack numbers; Graham had 9.5 sacks in 2017 and just 4 in 2018. However, when looking deeper into the numbers, Graham was still an elite player on the defensive front for the Eagles. Per ProFootballFocus, Graham ranked 7th in total QB pressures with 70 in 2018.

Over the past four seasons, Graham has produced numbers that few current active players have even come close to. Graham is averaging 758 snaps per season, which ranks just 24th at his position, but he is averaging 68 pressures per season, which ranks 4th. Though Graham is turning 31 prior to the start of next season, the wear-and-tear on his body isn’t what one would expect at that age from one of the leagues premiere pass rushers.

Graham’s re-signing also solidifies the defensive end position for years to come for the Eagles. Derek Barnett, who is coming off of season-ending shoulder surgery, was the only long-term piece in place on the edge. Michael Bennett has just one-year remaining on his deal, and Chris Long is unsure about returning for 2019. With Graham back, the Eagles now will have flexibility with capable players at defensive end, something that was key in the team winning their first ever Super Bowl in the 2017-18 season. It is worth noting, though, that Graham’s contract will likely force the Eagles’ hand on letting go of either Bennett or Long if they can’t agree to restructure their deal. Bennett is set to make $9 million next season, and Long will make $5 million if he decides to return.

Along with those two, Graham’s extension almost surely guarantees at least one, if not all, of Timmy Jernigan, Jason Peters and Nelson Agholor, won’t return. Both Jernigan and Peters are set to make $13 million next season, and Agholor is set to make $9 million on a team-option. If the Eagles hope to sign more players come free agency, that means we will be seeing some of Jernigan, Peters, Bennett, Agholor and Long conclude their time in Philadelphia.

Regardless, Graham, the most important Eagles free agent of all, will be back in 2019 and beyond that. One Eagles Super Bowl legend in Nick Foles is gone, but the other in Graham, who had the strip sack of Tom Brady to help solidify that Super Bowl victory, will be staying.

Photo: Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports
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