The lure of a championship can change career paths for many across multiple sports. It can also keep key players around in situations in which they'd otherwise depart.
Consider Brandon Graham's situation to be the latter. The veteran defensive end, who's entering the final year of his four-year, $26 million deal, said as much Thursday.
"You always want to be secure, but I'm OK with whatever because at the end of the day, next week we get that Super Bowl] ring," Graham said, [via Philly.com's Jeff McLane. "If we didn't have the team we have then I would say let's get secure, but we got a great team to do it again. ...
"We'll get [the contract] done however it go. I'm 30 years old and I understand this is a business, too. But I got to keep showing them that I'm just going to keep taking it up and go out on my terms."
It's somewhat rare these days to see an established veteran coming off a strong season to accept his current contract, especially when finding himself on the other side of 30. In today's age of youngsters worrying about outperforming rookie deals, it's much more customary to see this situation result in a holdout.
In terms of performance, Graham would have a strong case for a new deal, even at 30 years old. He posted a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2017 to go along with 47 tackles and two forced fumbles. But offseason ankle surgery has him more focused on going after another title with the loaded Eagles, opting to use the final year of his current contract as a prove-it deal.
Should he come close to his 2017 play, he'll likely command upwards of $9 million per year on his new contract, based on current per-year averages of players near his age (new teammate Michael Bennett and Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake are each averaging more than $9 million per season). Whether that comes in Philadelphia -- unlikely, given the team's current salary cap situation -- is another topic to be revisited next offseason, with the recent release of Mychal Kendricks impossible to overlook.
"I hate to see anybody go that I've been here with for a long time," Graham said. "I know Kendricks -- he gave his all. Sometimes it's just a business. I understand it. I've seen a lot of guys go that I loved playing with."
In the meantime, Graham will continue working his way back to the field, where he'll attempt to run it back with the underdog-turned-champion Eagles in what might end up being his last campaign in Philadelphia.