More going on here than meets the EYE—
First up, Howie Roseman does not believe that Brandon Graham is disgruntled, even though the defensive end recently stopped taking part in the team’s offseason training. According to a “league source”, Graham left Philadelphia and has been back in his home state of Michigan since Monday, working with his longtime trainer Mike Barwis. The move was motivated in part by a desire to be close to his young family during the voluntary portion of the spring schedule. The plan as of Wednesday was for him to attend mandatory minicamp in June, the source said, though this appears to be a fluid situation.
“Brandon has been here all offseason prior to that, and he has had a tremendously positive attitude,” Roseman said Thursday on 94.1 WIP in Philadelphia. “He had a great year last year, he’s an important part of this team, and we fully expect that to happen in 2017 and going forward.”
Asked if he has given any indication that Graham is unhappy with his contract, Roseman responded, “He has personally not done that.” He was then asked whether the same was true for his agent, Joel Segal. “Again, I don’t want to go into contract discussions, but Brandon has been unbelievably positive about his role on this football team, being here, and I don’t get any dissatisfaction at all with him,” he responded.
I take Graham at his word that this is all about a family matter. I take his tweets seriously that he is NOT holding out. I am not going to lose sleep over Brandon Graham’s “fake news” angle that alleges he is jealous of Vinny Curry’s money.
Then there’s the feel-good story coming out of Eagles rookie camp about Weston Steelhammer.
Steelhammer, a safety out of Air Force, received word during draft weekend that his goal of playing for an NFL team this season was no longer possible. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Defense adjusted its policy so pro-athlete hopefuls could defer active-duty service commitments immediately. It was announced during draft week that the policy had changed, and now “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve status which would permit their participation in professional sports.”
“It all came at once like a fire hose,” said Steelhammer, who discovered his fate by reading a newspaper article. “I think I found out about it the same time you guys did,” Steelhammer said. “Maybe that was a miscommunication, misinterpretation, I don’t know, but it went down the way it did and we’ve got to make the most of it.”
Steelhammer will head to San Antonio in the fall, when he’ll work on the business side of things in logistics and acquisitions while trying to stay football-ready. He’s allowed to play ball in the meantime and will spend at least the next several days with the Eagles, who considered him a potential undrafted free-agent target before the rule change. He had several rookie-camp invites but felt like the Eagles gave him the best opportunity.
Meanwhile, the Eagles got a look at all their rookie prospects together on the same field.
“It’s a chance to get our first look at the players in our systems, in our building,” Howie Roseman said. “We put a lot of time into studying the players and now we get our hands on them and see where they are physically and then the coaching staff gives them a lot of information to digest. We see how they process that information and then translate it to the football field. It’s an exciting time for everyone.”
I once had a dream where a bunch of undrafted rookies somehow bonded and made the Eagles team as a special teams package. That’s not going to happen in real life, but it made for a great dream. The movie would be called “The Wild Bunch”…
Photos by Hunter Martin of PE.com: