By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
On Friday morning, the Eagles and veteran defensive end Brandon Graham agreed to a three-year extension that would prevent him from becoming a free agent next month.
After being selected by the Eagles in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Graham has spent the last nine seasons playing in Philadelphia. With this three-year extension, it is very possible Graham plays for the Eagles for the entirety of his career.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 1, 2019
The deal is worth $40 million. While the details of the deal are not public as of yet, that deal would come out to a bit over $13 million per year if it were not backloaded as most NFL contracts are.
Where did the team find that cap space, some may wonder. While the team is still tight with cap space, the decisions over the past week have made this extension possible.
The first step in this process was deciding not to franchise tag Nick Foles. While the franchise was praised by many for doing right by the iconic quarterback, the decision is also the safe choice and, more importantly, would be impossible to do if an extension were to be signed.
Since a trade could not become official until the start of the 2019 league year, the Eagles would have needed to create $25 million in space to franchise tag him and that leaves no room for an extension.
The second move is essentially a swap. The Eagle were a bit over $4 million under the capin 2019. They owe Jernigan $13 million in 2019, but his injury gave the Eagles outs. By choosing to decline his option as they announced earlier this week, the team saves somewhere between $11-$13 million depending on the specifics of his new contract.
By allowing Jernigan to walk, the Birds created that space that they simply allocated to Graham. The return of Graham gives the Eagles a fearsome group of edge rushers with Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long set to join the veteran.
With a deep defensive line draft, Jernigan moving on and those four set to return, defensive tackle seems like the position the Eagles will seek to address in the draft. That makes Dexter Lawrence an even more likely fit.
The Eagles are now $2-$4 million under the cap. They will need around $7-$8 million to sign their draft picks and will need to create the space for any other free agent contracts they seek to give out. While Jason Peters and Nelson Agholor may be the easiest ways to create that space, the team may need to start considering other ways of creating additional space if they plan to target free agents like Le’Veon Bell or Tevin Coleman.