It was this time last offseason where Eagles fans were preparing for the potential emotional departure of Brandon Graham. Most thought it was inevitable several reasons, one being his age. Brandon Graham will be 32 years old in April but if last season showed us anything, it’s that the veteran’s motor is nowhere near breaking down.
Graham finished the 2018 season with only four sacks in what many felt was enough evidence for the Eagles if they wanted to move on. Instead, the front office did the opposite and showed their confidence and appreciation for the former first-round pick. Graham agreed to a deal worth $40 million for 3 years, keeping the veteran in Philly through 2021.
The response from Graham was one of a kind and one that most coaches and GM’s wish they saw more often. Graham finished the 2019 season on a higher note than he finished the previous season with 8.5 sacks, 35 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble, 17 QB hits, and 13 QB hurries.
His numbers only tell a quarter of the story as the veteran’s impact was deeper than what numbers can show. His tenacity and ‘never say die’ attitude was contagious amongst members of the team and even the fans. Graham’s outgoing personality and optimism kept his team’s hopes alive during their late run to the playoffs. The former first-round pick’s fandom for his own team helped remind the players that they can still have fun while competing at a high level.
Graham was once labeled as a first-round bust until he completely turned his career around to being one of the most important Eagles in franchise history. From his Super Bowl strip-sack to his quirky lines on Amazon’s “All or Nothing” series, Graham has established himself as more than just a leader heading into the 10th season of his career.
With Derek Barnett entering a crucial year and the rest of the position all facing question marks, Graham’s production and strong leadership will be more important than ever in what could be the beginning of a transitional period at the position. Whether new talent is on the way or not, Graham will be relied on to not only lead by example as he did in 2019, but help the next generation of pass-rusher continue to find their feet.
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