Besides reaffirming the team’s confidence in Jalen Hurts as its starting quarterback, general manager Howie Roseman also discussed the futures of several other high-profile players during his season-ending interview with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
Defensive end Brandon Graham, the Eagles’ longest-tenured player, and 10-year veteran offensive lineman Brandon Brooks both went down with season-ending injuries in Week 2. Brooks suffered a pectoral injury, while Graham sustained a torn Achilles.
There were lingering doubts about their individual futures following Sunday’s exit in the NFC wild-card round.
Roseman was positive when discussing Graham’s future, stating he sees a role in the future for the former 2010 first-round pick out of Michigan.
“We miss BG,” Roseman said. “We miss BG the player, and there’s nobody who can replace BG the person. The leader that he is, as well. He’s attacking this rehab. We see him every day around here and he’s got a chip on his shoulder.”
Over 12 seasons, Graham has 477 tackles, 113 tackles for loss, 59 sacks, and 20 forced fumbles. He’s served as a dominant force to the defense’s pass rush and his presence was certainly missed. With Graham out for 15 games, the Eagles finished with the second-fewest sacks in the league (29).
Graham, who turns 34 in April, is one of the team’s vocal leaders. Once his rehab got to the point where he could be more mobile, he frequented the sidelines during games, offering advice and motivation when needed. He even traveled with the team during road games later in the season.
“We do see a role for [Graham] going forward and we’re excited to get him back next year,” Roseman said. “He’s a huge part of our football team.”
Brooks’ future up in the air
Regarding Brooks, Roseman was much more tame in his tone.
He focused the conversation on Brooks’ rehab from his pectoral injury and offered no promises about his status. Over the past few days, multiple rumors floated across social media about Brooks contemplating retirement. However, Roseman did not confirm the status of his future.
“It was really important for us to make sure that Brandon Brooks ended the season healthy and to make sure that he had an offseason where he was healthy and he wasn’t rehabbing,” Roseman said. “That is the extent of our communication. I met with him at the end of the season.
“You’re talking about one of the greatest players, one of the greatest guards in the history of the franchise. We have tremendous respect for him. Those are the conversations we’ve had with Brandon up to this point.”
Brooks, who turns 33 in August, is a three-time Pro Bowler. His three Pro Bowl nods are the most by any guard in franchise history. During the team’s Super Bowl-winning season in 2017-18, Brooks did not allow a single sack across 1,077 offensive snaps.
The offensive line still produced at a high level without Brooks. Rookie offensive lineman Landon Dickerson appeared at both the right and left guard spots and his play noticeably improved as the season progressed.
What about Cox?
Another veteran Roseman discussed was 10-year defensive lineman Fletcher Cox. Roseman admitted Cox was the subject of trade rumors at the deadline.
The Eagles ultimately kept him on the roster and Cox finished with 3.5 sacks, tied for second fewest in his career. For perspective, his career high in sacks was 10.5 in 2018 and his career low was 3 in 2013.
Earlier in the week, Cox declined to discuss his contract situation, although his tone indicated he’d like to remain in Philadelphia. Cox has one year remaining on his six-year, $102.6 million deal.
“It’s our job to listen to everything and see if there are ways to improve our team,” Roseman said. “Obviously, Fletcher is a great player. Teams at the deadline were making calls. ... Our priorities are always going to be along the line of scrimmage, and obviously having him and [Javon] Hargrave, you see the growth from [rookie] Milton Williams inside – that’s a huge part of our defense and a huge part of our priorities.
“Fletch knew what was going on. We communicated with him. He’s a guy that was a big part of the success that we had down the stretch. He can continue to take over games and be an incredible player, and we expect more of that going forward.”
Reagor going backward
Finally, Roseman expressed his displeasure in second-year wide receiver Jalen Reagor. A former first-round pick from 2020, Reagor has been a disappointment in nearly every facet of his game. He’s drastically underperformed, especially when compared to the rest of his peers.
Reagor’s numbers pale in comparison to other receivers taken in his draft class (see: Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk, Michael Pittman, Chase Claypool, and Tee Higgins, among others).
Despite playing in more games during his sophomore season compared to his rookie year, Reagor regressed in 2021. He finished with just 33 catches for 299 receiving yards with two touchdowns in 17 games. He also had 10 carries for 32 rushing yards.
Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC wild-card round, Reagor recorded just one catch for 2 yards. He also had two critical muffed punt returns and one lost fumble.
“Certainly – heading into year three, we expected more from Jalen [Reagor] at this point,” Roseman said. “We had a chance to sit down with him after the season and had an honest conversation about the things that he needs to develop. Things that we can help him develop to continue his growth, in terms of learning from anything. We have to do that. We have to continue to evolve.
“We have to look at not only the things that maybe we don’t like about our decision-making. ... I think that’s part of continuing to grow in your job and in your profession.”