PHILADELPHIA – On a dark Monday that saw the official end of Brandon Graham’s season, came a sliver of sunshine - Brandon Brooks’ season isn’t over.
It’s not bright enough to don a pair of shades, but it’s something, and when the news is as bleak as Graham missing the rest of the Eagles’ season, the tiny ray of light was a welcome sight.
Brooks suffered “just” a strained pectoral and not a full tear, not the catastrophic Achilles’ rupture that befell Graham.
Still, Brooks landed on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, but he will return at some point this year. Maybe.
Jack Anderson, a 6-5, 315-pound guard who was drafted in the seventh round by the Buffalo Bills out of Texas Tech this past spring, was signed from the Bills' practice squad to take Brooks' place.
It's reasonable to speculate that Brooks may have played his final game with the Eagles given his contract, inability to stay healthy, and Landon Dickerson possibly waiting in the wings to take over.
It's also no secret that the Eagles tried to trade Brooks in the offseason. A source told SI.com Eagle Maven several months ago that he even expected to be traded.
Brooks, who is 32, has been a notoriously quick healer from a pair of Achilles’ tears in two of the last three years but his second Achilles’ tear last June while working out cost him his 2020 season.
It has been a rough go for him from a health standpoint since he signed a contract extension in November of 2019, a deal with $56.35 million in new money with a total paper value of $71.6M. He received a $3.91M signing bonus and a fully guaranteed salary in 2020.
Since doing the deal, he has played in just nine of a possible 26 games.
Two weeks after signing the contract, Brooks played just 11 snaps against the Seahawks before checking himself out of the game with anxiety.
It’s an illness Brooks has wrestled with for a long time, and, much to his credit, he openly speaks about the subject in an effort to let others know it’s OK to have anxiety but to seek help.
Also, in 2019, he suffered a shoulder injury in the season finale which prevented him from playing in the wild-card playoff loss against the Seahawks.
Then came last year when he missed all 16.
WATCH: Analysis of Brandon Graham injury
It’s unclear how many games he will miss this season, but his absence could be beneficial for the Eagles in the long term since they will now find out what they have in Dickerson.
Dickerson entered for Brooks in the second quarter and finished the game at right guard, playing the final 33 snaps.
“We all have to do things to improve based on (Sunday’s) game, but I thought he played solid for his first outing,” said head coach Nick Sirianni on Monday. “Again, there’s just some things with his pass pro we have to clean up, some assignments, and stuff like that. But encouraged by his first start, his first time to play significant snaps.”
The Eagles turned to Dickerson over Nate Herbig, who played guard early in camp before moving to center to serve as Jason Kelce’s backup.
Dickerson, of course, has the higher pedigree, arriving in the second round from Alabama despite a history of injuries and having to rehab a torn ACL suffered late in The Crimson Tide’s 2020 season. His first few days as a full practice participant came only last week.
Herbig was an undrafted free agent in 2019, but one who played in 15 games at guard last year with 12 starts.
Sirianni didn’t want to commit to which player would take first-team reps this week.
“Nothing’s final there,” he said. “I don’t want to say it’s going to be Landon, it’s going to be Nate, one way or the other because we’re not there yet.”
If Dickerson or Herbig take off in their new role, Brooks’ return may not be as heralded as it might seem right now.
Plus, there is Brooks’ contract to consider.
In 2022, he is scheduled to count $19.4M against the salary cap, and that number remains relatively the same for the two years after that, in 2023 and 2024.
That doesn’t seem tenable for player who can’t seem to stay healthy the past couple of seasons, though if the Eagles were to move on and have to release him after this season, they would absorb a dead-money hit of $15.7M to save $3.7M under the salary cap in 2022.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.