Extra points: Brandon Graham, Eagles perfect dance partners
Sometimes it's not all about the money.
Defensive end Brandon Graham likely could have landed a bigger contract with another franchise during free agency. But it was more important to him - and to the Eagles - to stay in Philadelphia.
As a result, he has agreed to terms on a one-year deal that will be worth up to $6 million, according to ESPN.com.
"It wasn't even about no money," Graham told ESPN.com. "It was more about wanting to be an Eagle as long as I could still play at a high level, and of course I still have a sour taste in my mouth on how things ended this year."
Graham, the team's first-round draft pick in 2010, is already Philadelphia's longest-tenured current pro athlete. He will be beginning his 14th season with the Eagles, tying Chuck Bednarik (1949-62) for the most seasons played with the team.
The 34-year-old has played 178 games with the Eagles, which puts him in position to break former place-kicker David Akers' franchise record of 188. (Center Jason Kelce, who has yet to announce his plans for 2023, is just behind Graham with 176 games).
Such longevity is indeed rare in Philadelphia. Consider that Graham and Kelce are among 10 players who have played at least 160 games in Eagle green. Among the other eight, only former tight end Brent Celek (175) and current defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (173) spent their entire careers with the Birds and there is a chance Cox will be playing elsewhere in 2023.
Loyalty typically is not rewarded, even if you're among the best players in franchise history at your position. Safety Brian Dawkins signed with Denver after 13 seasons and 183 games. Wide receiver Harold Carmichael reluctantly joined the Cowboys after 13 seasons and 180 games. Quarterback Donovan McNabb was traded to Washington after 11 years. Defensive end Trent Cole (Indianapolis) and tackle Tra Thomas (Jacksonville) met similar fates after more than a decade with the team.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie also deserve credit for recognizing Graham's importance to the team and the community.
I've watched enough episodes of "Dancing with the Stars" - it's my tradeoff for watching sports - to know that it takes two to Tango.
Graham and Roseman proved to be the football equivalent of Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke - they won Season 2 of DWTS.
Graham, who turns 35 next month, is one of those rare athletes whose value to a team cannot be measured strictly on the field.
He is still a productive pass rusher - he registered a career-high 11 sacks this season - but the veteran is also perhaps the team's biggest defensive leader. When he talks, younger players such as Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick listen.
He also delivered arguably the biggest defensive play in franchise history in Super Bowl LII.
Nick Foles and "Philly Special" may not have mattered if not for Graham's strip sack of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that sealed the Eagles' 41-33 victory.
Like six-time Mirror Ball trophy winner Derek Hough, Graham has worked well with a variety of partners while mastering a variety of moves.
His 13-year career featured stints with five defensive coordinators: Sean McDermott (2010), Juan Castillo (2011-12), Billy Davis (2013-15), Jim Schwartz (2016-20) and Jonathan Gannon (2021-22). He did so without complaint, even when Davis moved him to outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment.
Next up is Sean Desai, who was hired last week to replace Gannon after he became Arizona's new head coach.
There figures to be some changes to the defense this season. Cox is among nine veterans slated to become unrestricted free agent next week, including cornerback James Bradberry, safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, linebacker T.J. Edwards and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. According to ESPN, the team has also given cornerback Darius Slay permission to seek a trade.
"Dancing with the Stars" is going through a similar overhaul. Rumor has it Cheryl Burke has hung up her dance shoes while Hough may stick to judging instead of competing. My wife is hoping the show will bring Maxim Chmerkovskiy out of retirement.
It helps to have a veteran to serve as a steadying influence amid the chaos.
With DWTS, it's judges Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli, who have been there for every season.
With the Eagles, it's Brandon Graham.
If it seems like I know too much about Dancing with the Stars, you would be right. But it's a small price to pay for watching the Eagles, Phillies and other sports.