Uram: Brandon Graham Needs a Reality Check

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Bake up a piece of humble pie, because Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham requires a serving.

On Wednesday, Jeff McLane of The Inquirer reported Graham left off-season workouts, is expected to skip voluntary OTAs and possibly mandatory minicamp if his contract isn’t re-negotiated. CBS Sports, CSN Philly and The Daily News said there was no contract dispute and de facto general manager Howie Roseman spoke very highly about Graham on the WIP Morning Show. When asked, Roseman said Graham didn’t request a new contract, but wouldn’t confirm or deny if his agent did.

That can be translated to, “Yes.”

Regardless if this is the idea of Graham’s agent, Graham himself, or both of them combined, it’s a bad one.

Let’s start with the bottom line: Graham has never been on a playoff winning teaming and made the playoffs only twice in his seven-year career. One of those seasons was his awful rookie campaign.

Up until his fifth year – a contract year – the Michigan product was considered a major bust. Since then, he’s been one of the Eagles’ best defenders, if not the best. However, Graham will always be the guy drafted right in front of safety Earl Thomas and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Both of those guys are Super Bowl winners and Pro Bowlers. Unless Graham wins a Super Bowl with the Eagles, that pick will always be a mistake, even though that’s more of management’s fault than his. I didn’t even mention yet that Rob Gronkowski was taken in the second round that season by New England. Was Brent Celek in 2010 a better option than Gronk?

Regardless, despite being the best defender on the field in 2016 for the Eagles, that’s not exactly saying he lit the world on fire. If you just break down stats, Graham has never reached double-digit sacks. His career high was 6.5 in 2015 for Billy Davis as an outside linebacker.

But back to the bottom line: noone on a 7-9 team should even remotely ask for a pay raise, especially when there’s two years left on a decent payday, non-rookie contract. Graham should’ve at least reached double-digit sacks once and won a playoff game before even remotely thinking he’s worthy of more money a couple years after receiving his current deal.

Now, in fairness, you could absolutely argue Graham deserves an increase based on what the underachieving Vinny Curry is bringing in. That’s a valid argument and another poor decision by the front office. However, as I speculate about possible reasons for this potential holdout, Graham shouldn’t punish his teammates and the fan base by possibly missing workouts because management made a mistake with the Curry deal. Graham also shouldn’t punish his peers and the public because the team drafted defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round a couple weeks ago.

This latest hiccup aside, Graham is a likable player and his story is awesome. But, it’s definitely not worthy of primadonna behavior.

It’s about time for Pete Mackanin’s extension

It’s rather unusual for a team that lost 10 of 12 games to hand its lame duck manager an extension, especially a squad that exhibited examples of no hustle with starting players like Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco, along with one of its veteran relievers calling out his boss for poor bullpen use.

However, it’s those reasons alone that Mackanin needed an extension through 2018 with a club option for 2019. Joaquin Benoit’s suggested displeasure with Mackanin and isolated instances of slacking require discipline from an authoritative voice.

Mackanin possesses that authoritative quality. But the issue was this: Who is going to take criticism from a lame duck manager seriously? No one.

That changed Thursday morning when the Phillies announced the long overdue reward for a baseball lifer who earned an extension prior to spring training. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if Benoit’s egregious remarks prompted Phils management to extend Mackanin. Just speculating, of course.

Before I forget…

-I might be the only person who dislikes that Joel Embiid will be representing the 76ers at next week’s NBA Draft Lottery. Don’t be mistaken, I’ll thoroughly enjoy any type of entertaining charade Embiid will probably put on. “The Process” has proven, even while being out of commission, that he’s at a “Gronkonian” level of fun. But, the Sixers need luck next week if they’re going to finally land the Lakers pick … not fun. Last time I checked, 31 games in three seasons is the essence of bad luck. I don’t “trust” a single lottery ball combination handed to the Sixers with Embiid in the building.

-Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was trying to downplay the expectations for whoever the Flyers take with the second overall pick in the NHL Draft. Hexy did so one week after admitting that he jumped off his couch when miraculously landing that selection. From an outsider’s perspective, if you temper this kid’s expectations of himself, you’ll temper his performance. For a team that lacks serious jam [Yes, that’s a Peter Laviolette reference – ahem – he’s in the Western Conference Finals], stop pouring water on any excitement surrounding this all of a sudden boring franchise.


Dave Uram is a weekly contributor to Philly Influencer. You can follow him on Twitter (@MrUram) and email him at david.uram@yahoo.com.

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