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The Chase For $2.5 Million

If you're interested in the financial end of football and want a subplot to follow, here's a good one for you: Brandon Graham has roughly $2.5 million riding on this season.

There is something called a one-time not likely to be earned incentive that was often included in rookie deals for high draft choices under the old collective bargaining agreement as a way for teams to free up money so they had enough to pay the remainder of their picks fairly. If said player reaches agreed upon numbers in terms of playing time and production, the money is his.

"The intent is for him to earn it as soon as possible," said former agent and cap expert Joel Corry, "but it just hasn't worked out in Brandon Graham's case, which is unusual."

The player needs to see a certain percentage of snaps (35 percent his rookie season, 45 percent after that) and must hit another mark -- whether it be a specific individual statistic (for Graham, it's reaching 8.5 sacks), team improvement in an approved category or leading the club in an approved category -- in a given year to trigger the pay day.

So far, it hasn't happened for Graham. The injury late in his rookie year prevented him from checking the right boxes. In the years since he has fallen short of the 45 percent threshold.

This is his final chance to bring it home. Over the first two games he has played 34.4 percent of the defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus. That number needs to go up if he has a shot at cashing a $2.5 million check.

"This is rare. If you're a guy that's not going to earn it, you're usually not around by then," said Corry. "This is a very rare instance and you won't see it ever again because of the way the rookie deals have changed. These type of incentives aren't permissible anymore [under the new CBA]."

"I would have hit it my rookie year if I didn't get hurt," said Graham. "Stuff happens for a reason. I feel like I'm going to hit it because I stay working, keeping my body right. One of these days I'm going to get in there a little more than I'm used to."
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45% and 8.5 sacks appears to be a longshot. That 2.5M can set a guy up with a $100K annuity for 30 years or more. Essentially setting himself up for a long while. We've had some dealings with him. A good guy. I hope he gets it.