Big free-agent target off the market as Eagles lock up DE Brandon Graham with extension

NFL teams that have been hoarding salary-cap space are going to see their potential targets thin out over the next couple weeks.

Franchise tags will be handed out to some of the best players set to hit the market, and others will re-sign with their teams before free agency starts March 13. Teams that are looking for a pass rusher couldn’t have been happy to see the news Friday morning that the Philadelphia Eagles had signed defensive end Brandon Graham to a three-year extension. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Graham got $40 million over three years, which should help set the market for the other top ends in free agency.

Graham was set to be one of the top defensive ends available, but the Eagles weren’t going to let him leave.

Brandon Graham is already a Philadelphia legend

No matter what Graham does the rest of his career, he’ll always be remembered fondly in Philadelphia.

While “Philly Special” has endured as the highlight of Super Bowl LII, Graham’s strip-sack of Tom Brady late in the fourth quarter was arguably the biggest play of the game. That was the defensive stop the Eagles needed in a back-and-forth game, and Graham made it. That helped the Eagles beat the Patriots for their first Super Bowl title.

Graham wasn’t given an extension for nostalgic reasons. He is a good two-way end who has 42.5 career sacks. Graham didn’t have a huge 2018, posting four sacks at age 30, but he’s still a key part of the Eagles’ defense.

The free-agent market takes a hit

Graham was set to become a coveted free agent. Plenty of pass rushers, like DeMarcus Lawrence and Dee Ford, are unlikely to reach the open market because they’ll either get a big extension or the franchise tag. There still are good targets available, especially on defense, but it will be thinned out before March 13.

Graham could have gotten a very nice deal on the open market, but he has spent his entire career in Philadelphia and presumably enjoys being an Eagle. This contract could take him through his age-33 season, so this contract could mean he finishes his career with the Eagles.

And with the news, the free-agent market has one fewer elite player available.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham celebrates after Super Bowl LII. (AP)
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham celebrates after Super Bowl LII. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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