James Bradberry back with the New York Giants? The Philadelphia Eagles’ cornerback and soon-to-be free agent would not rule that out on Tuesday as he spoke to media as his Eagles prepared to meet the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2023 Super Bowl.
“You know what, I try to be an open-minded guy,’’ Bradberry said. “The possibilities are limitless when it comes to free agency and where I end up. Can’t make any promises, but I’m an open-minded guy.’’
Is a Bradberry-Giants reunion really feasible?
Bradberry can head to free agency after the Eagles and Chiefs play on Sunday night. It does him zero good to close the door on any team at this point. After all, if he does that the possibilities are no longer “limitless” and the pool of potential suitors for his services, and perhaps his earning power, shrinks.
Bradberry played for the Giants in 2020 and 2021, and did say that he maintains regular contact with several former teammates. He added that defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson is a “great coach” and that “I miss playing under his tutelage.”
Despite any comments he made previously that could have been interpreted as holding bitterness toward the Giants, Bradberry said Tuesday that has never been the case.
“I was looking at it from a business standpoint,” Bradberry said Tuesday. “I knew the salary cap was what it was and where I fell on it. So, I knew either they were going to have to trade me or release me.
“It was a rough little stint there I had in New York, but I came away with a lot of great relationships. They’ve got a lot of great guys in that building over there – players, personnel. And I’ve still got a great relationship with those guys over there. So, it was a blessing.”
But, does a second act with the Giants really make sense?
The Giants undoubtedly need help at cornerback. Adoree’ Jackson is the Giants’ best cornerback, and while he is a good player Jackson has never been a game-changer. There are legitimate questions about the viability of every other cornerback on the roster.
Bradberry would undoubtedly upgrade the talent at cornerback and, at least in the short term, make the Giants better. He is coming off arguably the best year of his five-year career, and earned second-team Associated Press All-Pro honors. Bradberry allowed receptions on only 46.8 percent of passes in which he was targeted, and had a 51.4 passer rating against. Both were career-bests.
So, yeah, he is a really good player.
Still, he is a cornerback who will be entering his age 30 season in 2023. He won’t come cheap. He is going to command a multi-year, big money contract. Spotrac assesses his market value at three years, $51.584 million (roughly $17.1 million annually).
That would put Bradberry among the top eight cornerbacks in the league in terms of average annual value. Is he worth that? Should the Giants be making that kind of commitment to a cornerback who would be 30 at the beginning of it, and whose play would likely regress during the course of it?
There is also this to consider. If Wink Martindale is still the Giants’ defensive coordinator, which he will be if the Indianapolis Colts don’t make him their next head coach, does Bradberry really fit what Martindale looks for at cornerback?
Three of the five cornerbacks who were most often in man-to-man coverage in 2022 were Giants. Per Pro Football Focus, Jackson was in man 46.1 percent of the time, Darnay Holmes 45.9 percent of the time and Fabian Moreau 41.4 percent of the time.
Bradberry was 30th on a list of 71 qualifying cornerbacks at 26.0 percent man coverage. He was good at it, allowing just 13 completions in 37 targets (35.1 percent — sixth in the NFL) and earning a 69.3 PFF grade, 13th among the 71 qualifiers, and had a 47.9 passer rating against.
Was that year an outlier for Bradberry?
In 2021 with the Giants, he gave up 17 completions in 25 targets (68 percent) in man coverage, had a 40.1 PFF grade and a 127.2 passer rating against.
In 2020, he game of 14 completions in 25 targets (56 percent), earned a 66.1 PFF grade and had a 92.3 passer rating against.
Bradberry has 80th percentile height at 6-foot-1 and 96th percentile arm length at 33⅜ inches that Martindale would covet.
I come back to the idea that it is not a good idea to pay a player big money at a point when his skills are going to diminish. Bradberry is coming off a career season, and he rightly wants to capitalize on it. He is, though, unlikely to duplicate it.
My view would be that a reunion with Bradberry is something the Giants should not pursue. Draft and develop a cornerback, or find a younger free agent who should be entering his best years rather than leaving them behind.
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Should the Giants pursue a reunion with cornerback James Bradberry?
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