Just when you thought he was out, they pull him back in.
Much to the chagrin of many Brandon Graham backers all over the fantasy community, the talented edge rusher will
not get an opportunity to test his considerable wares on the free agent market after the Philadelphia Eagles made
the wise decision to retain the 27-year-old.
A former first round selection by the Andy Reid regime, Graham has been one of the most productive pass rushers on
a per snap basis in the league over the past few seasons, albeit in a part-time role. In total, he has racked up
125 pressures in the 2012-2014 window, according to Pro Football Focus.
The decision to bring Graham back is one of many moves made by the active Eagles front office the past few days as
free agency reaches its nadir, but it may have been the most shrewd. The four-year contract is worth $26m, with
only around half of that guaranteed. If we assume a per-year cash figure of $4.25m – and the expected bump in snaps
Graham is likely to receive – it is nothing short of a bargain.
But therein lies the rub; why hasn’t Graham secured a larger role by now? Injuries have undoubtedly played a
massive role. Microfracture surgery and a torn ACL in 2012 may have slowed him down, but they didn’t stop him. Chip
Kelly has opted to keep Graham behind veteran Trent Cole since the new coach arrived, but with Cole out the door
that is about to change.
In fact, since arriving in Philadelphia Graham has only played more than 50% of defensive snaps in a season once,
Graham presumably slides in opposite Connor Barwin and projects to be the Eagles’ most dangerous pass rusher. The
transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 hasn’t hurt his production, but the increased demands on him as a run defender will
be the true test of his viability as a legitimate top option in a fantasy context. It should be noted that Graham
has performed well against the run in limited snaps, especially in 2014.
The show of faith by the Eagles is significant and could be the kickstart Graham needs to be a true every down
player – and a dominant producer in fantasy football.