PHILADELPHIA – It may never happen again because it happens so infrequently these days, where four players are able to spend 10-plus years with the same franchise that drafted them.
That is the case, though, with Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, and Lane Johnson.
Three of the four were first-round picks at the start of last decade, with Kelce the outlier coming in the sixth round, the best sixth-round draft pick in Eagles history.
All four are still here, still being counted heavily on to help win games, still being relied on for leadership, to show the young players the right way to do things.
There’s not another NFL team that has four players that came in four consecutive years that have spent more than a decade together.
Jonathan Gannon has been in the NFL since 2007. The defensive coordinator was asked on Friday if he can remember a time when there were four players who have stayed together for that long of a period and had that kind of success.
“I have not,” he said. “You know, in the NFL today, I think they purposely set it up so where you don't have that. It's a very unique thing, and (General Manager] Howie (Roseman) has done a great job to draft both of those guys – and they have obviously played at a very high level for a very long time – and keep them Eagles, and I am glad they are both Eagles.”
Graham came first, the 13th overall pick in 2010, and in his rookie season, the Eagles won 10 games that season
Kelce arrived in 2011, the 191st player taken overall, and the Eagles won eight games that year.
Cox was the 12th overall pick in 2012, and the Eagles slumped to four wins that season and Andy Reid was fired.
The foursome was completed in 2021 when Lane Johnson was the fourth overall pick, and the Eagles won 10 games.
Since Graham was drafted, the Eagles have won 100 games.
The four together have been a part of 78 wins, five playoff wins, and the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
“Usually it means you’ve had success, right?” Kelce said. “When you play for teams that don’t win a lot or there’s a lot of turnover usually that also involves player turnover. When you have a large number of guys sticking around for a long period of time, that usually means the organization feels really comfortable with the players they have.
“I think the four you just named, including myself, we've been through a lot together. We’ve certainly tried to not just be the best players we can be, but the best teammates we can be, and I think the organization sees that, and respects kind of how all of us conduct ourselves in the building and on the field. It feels good.”
Johnson feels like he’s in a move called 'Life', with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, a buddy comedy-drama from 1999.
“Go back and watch it,” he said. “It’s very rare a group of guys can stay with the team for a decade or longer. … You spend so much time together and building these bonds, going through the heat of the moment, different battles in different games, you grow a close bond with these players, and we’ll be friends for life.”
The light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting brighter for them now, and soon, that oncoming locomotive being driven by Father Time will run them down and their careers will be over.
These four may not be the last ones to do something so rare.
The draft class of 2018 could stick around a while, with Jordan Mailata, Dallas Goedert, Josh Sweat, and Avonte Maddox already onto their second contracts. They have a long way to go to make it to 10 years in the league and 10 years to stay together.
Maybe in 2032, Cam Jurgens and Jordan Davis will still be around.
Sounds improbable, but who would have said something similar in 2013, after Johnson was added to Graham, Kelce, and Cox that in 2022 they would still be together and remain key cogs in winning games and expect that to happen?
It's one thing to prove your worth to an organization, another to find a way to keep a group together, and for that, Roseman does indeed plenty of credit.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.