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Monday, October 31, 2011
Injury costs Earnest Graham $340,000

By Pat Yasinskas

Earnest Graham’s torn Achilles tendon will cost him the rest of this season. It’s also going to cost him a lot more than that.

I just got a look at the contract details for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back/fullback and Graham’s injury is going to cost him $340,308. Graham’s contract has a stipulation that he earns $37,812 for every game that he’s on the 53-man roster.

Graham collected that for the first seven games of the season before suffering the injury in a loss to Chicago in London. Now that he’s on injured reserve, he’s no longer part of the active roster. Graham would have collected $605,000 in total bonus money if he had stayed on the roster all season.

Graham still will collect his $2 million base salary for this season. He also received a $500,000 roster bonus at the start of the season.

This is the final season of Graham’s contract and that makes you wonder about his future with the Buccaneers. Graham’s been a very valuable role player through the years. But he turns 32 in January and that’s quite old for a running back. He’ll also be coming off a major injury. Graham’s not going to command anything close to the $3.5 million per year he averaged under his current contract. The Bucs could bring him back at a lower salary, but I think that’s a long shot.

Graham is one of only a handful of Tampa Bay players that are 30 and over and the team likes to build through the draft. Starting running back LeGarrette Blount is a one-dimensional player, so it’s not hard to imagine the Bucs using an early draft pick on a running back next season. It’s likely they’ll be looking for a younger and healthier version of Graham.