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Cowboys 2015 Free Agency: Should Dallas Look At Brandon Graham?

With free agency looming could the Dallas Cowboys be looking to find a starter opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence? With the options available at pick 27, is Brandon Graham a better alternative for the left defensive end role?

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Without question the Dallas Cowboys need to address their left defensive end (LDE) position with Anthony Spencer and George Selvie both heading to free agency. The NFL Draft is obviously the place to find your next guy but based on who might be available is that the best spot to find your day one starter? There was a learning curve for last year's second round pick DeMarcus Lawrence and having to sit out significant time with a leg injury didn't help matters.

Based on how he played at Michigan and what can be seen watching him in Philadelphia it can easily be said that Brandon Graham was underutilized since turning pro. This season Graham only saw the field on 43% of the Eagles defensive snaps. A 4-3 defense could have resulted in Graham being more effective. The season prior he only saw the field on 27% of the Eagles defensive snaps.

Year Games Snaps Team Snaps % Tackles Solo Sacks FF FR
2014 16 524 1,207 43.4% 35 24 5.5 4 0
2013 16 353 1,307 27.0% 17 12 3 0 0
2012 16 435 1077 40.4% 30 22 5.5 2 1
2011 3 56 220 25.5% 5 5 0 0 0
2010 13 482 875 55.1% 12 11 3 2 0

Snap counts courtesy of Pro Football Focus. Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

What is seen on film is what should get you excited. Graham doesn't have the height or length of a Spencer or Selvie but his quickness makes up for it. He has a combination of quickness and power that will show up on tape. Graham also has the ability to bend around the edge to get to the passer. He can win from inside as well should the Cowboys want to put another pass rusher on the edge during obvious passing situations.

Against the run Graham uses his hands well to shed defenders with constant hand-fighting. He isn't one dimensional at all which makes him an even more viable option. Signing Graham would also keep the Cowboys from being pigeonholed into a defensive lineman pick at 27. The Cowboys need to address the position but having the option and opportunity to take best player available is what helped them land an All-Pro guard last year.

The Eagles had already offered Graham an extension which wasn't signed and according to this report from CSN Philly during the season, he was wanting a much larger deal.

Three sources have told Comcast SportsNet's Derrick Gunn that the Eagles have made two offers to Graham and his agent Joel Segal. The latest offer was a four-year deal that would average out to $6.2 million a year with $11 million guaranteed. But Segal and Graham want a four-year deal around $30 million with $20 million guaranteed, according to Gunn's sources

When you look at what Graham and his agent are seeking that would put him in the Cameron Wake contract range. Wake signed a five-year deal worth $33 million and $17 million guaranteed. Looking at the production of Wake compared to Graham, it would be difficult to sell that to a team. Here are their totals since 2010:

Player Games Tackles Solo Sacks FF FR
Wake 79 225 183 57.5 11 2
Graham 64 99 74 17 8 1

The more likely scenario would be in that $6.2 million range that the Eagles were offering over a four-year deal. I could see the Cowboys offering him a contract in the four years for $30 million but likely loaded with incentives for a guy whose production doesn't match the asking price. Given what defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is able to get out of his guys, this is an ideal spot for Graham.

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