A story about Brandon Graham’s journey and a possible raise

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 01: Brandon Graham /

265-pound defensive end Brandon Graham may be a little heavier in the pockets when the next two NFL seasons are done.

Once upon a time, the Philadelphia Eagles were struggling to replace longtime great and future NFL Hall of Fame inductee Brian Dawkins. As fate would have it, the 2010 NFL Draft rolled around. The Eagles were set to pick early, and it appeared they were in prime position to select Dawkins replacement. They traded up. Seemingly to take Earl Thomas of the Texas Longhorns. They instead took Brandon Graham, defensive end from the Michigan Wolverines.

The coach at that time was Andy Reid. He’s a man who’s made his fair share of first round blunders (Trevor Laws, Jerome McDougle, Danny Watkins). Normally, he did so because he stuck with a particular theory. He’d usually go with an offensive or defensive lineman in the first round. It appeared he’d made another one as Thomas and Graham appeared to be headed in different directions. Thomas caught onto the NFL game quickly. He, easily, became one of the best safeties in the league while Graham struggled.

The turning point:

Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles /

Philadelphia Eagles

Graham may have come on late, but he’s come on in a big way. He excelled in the 3-4 scheme the Eagles defense employed during the Chip Kelly reign, but when introduced to Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 scheme, Graham was moved back to defensive end. The results were extraordinary, and Graham had his best season in 2016.

It appears that his best days are ahead of him, especially financially.

The incentives:

According to ESPN insider Field Yates, Graham has the opportunity to earn an additional $1.5 million over the next two seasons in incentives and salary escalators as the Eagles have agreed to amend his current contract. He’s entering the final two seasons of his current deal, one that pays him a $6.5 million base salary over the next two seasons.

Here are the terms of the agreement, according to Yates:

"Should Graham record more than seven but fewer than nine sacks this season, he’ll collect $250,000, with the chance to earn an additional $250,000 if he surpasses the nine-sack mark. If Graham fails to reach nine sacks but is voted to the Pro Bowl on the original ballot or named to either the first or second All-NFL team (something he accomplished last year), he’ll earn $250,000."

That’s not all boys and girls. It gets better:

"His sack production and Pro Bowl status in 2017 also impacts his 2018 salary. If Graham records seven to eight sacks, his 2018 base salary increases by $250,000, and if he records nine to 11 sacks, his 2018 base salary increases by $500,000. If Graham records 12 or more sacks, his 2018 base salary increases by $750,000. Also, if he makes the Pro Bowl on the original ballot or is named to either the first or second All-NFL team, his salary increases by another $250,000. This means Graham can earn an additional $500,000 in 2017 and $1 million in 2018. That would bring his total pay to $14.5 million over two seasons."


Last season, Graham was named to the 2016 All-Pro 2nd Team by the Associated Press. He was also named first team All-Pro and the ninth best player in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. This followed a season where he recorded 59 tackles, two forced fumbles, 11 run stuffs, and 5.5 sacks.