According to multiple reports, the cash-strapped New York Giants are expected to release veteran cornerback James Bradberry in the coming days after a trade failed to materialize. The Giants must create enough financial freedom to sign their 2022 NFL Draft class and releasing Bradberry would create more than $10 million dollars in additional cap space, via Spotrac.
New Giants General Manager Joe Schoen continues to leave his blueprint on a new-look roster that has experienced an abundance of change this offseason. The Giants simply can’t stomach Bradberry’s sizable cap hit of $21.8 million, and releasing him has now revealed itself as the most likely outcome.
The 28-year-old Bradberry remains a feisty, competitive, and physical starting-caliber cornerback in coverage despite failing to experience his most fruitful professional season in 2021. Bradberry was still the undeniable leader of New York’s defense in 2021, a unit he appropriately spearheaded by securing a career-high four interceptions this past season. A Pro Bowler in 2020, Bradberry has totaled 380 tackles and 15 interceptions throughout an impressive six-year playing career.
A plethora of clubs should and will have interest in Bradberry’s services once he inevitably reaches the open market. We’ve identified three potential fits for Bradberry.
The Philadelphia Eagles have routinely been tied to Bradberry throughout this process and general manager Howie Roseman is expected to aggressively pursue him if and when he becomes available. The Eagles entered the offseason with an obvious need at the cornerback position, and that requirement became further magnified when Steven Nelson signed a two-year contract with the Houston Texans earlier this offseason. The Eagles have not signed a single notable cornerback in free agency to date.
Philadelphia entered the 2022 NFL Draft with several selections at their disposal, but Roseman traded away one of his premium first-round selections to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for superstar wide receiver A.J. Brown. The Eagles ended up drafting just five total players and none of them play the cornerback position. The Eagles reportedly signed three undrafted free agent cornerbacks at the conclusion of the draft, including Clemson’s Mario Goodrich and Alabama’s Joshua Jobe. This signals Philadelphia’s clear-and-obvious need for upgrades at cornerback. Philadelphia must be better prepared to defend the pass going forward if they hope to win the NFC East over Dak Prescott and the high-octane Dallas Cowboys. Signing away Bradberry from their division rival Giants would also lead to some fun bragging rights and talking points for Eagles fans.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
The Las Vegas Raiders entered the 2022 free agency period with the intention of landing the signature of a big-time cornerback on the open market. New Raiders General Manager Dave Ziegler attempted to sign elite cover-man J.C. Jackson. The Raiders seemingly had an excellent chance at securing Jackson’s services due to the shared history between him, Ziegler, and new Raiders Head Coach Josh McDaniels. It must have hurt to witness Jackson sign a sizable contract with their division rival Los Angeles Chargers instead. The Raiders expressed interest in other free-agent cornerbacks, but failed to land a top-tier target, and eventually spent the majority of their money on Davante Adams and Chandler Jones.
Ziegler pivoted nicely to his whiff by acquiring Rock Ya-Sin in a blockbuster trade with the Indianapolis Colts, but more is required at the position, especially after they lost Casey Hayward in free agency. It’s worth noting that new Raiders Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham spent the previous two campaigns as Bradberry’s DC in East Rutherford.
The Raiders are currently preparing to compete in a unique AFC West division that features Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos, and Justin Herbert and the Chargers. It’s safe to assume the Raiders’ secondary is going to be tested on an extremely consistent basis.
The Seahawks allowed an astounding 265.5 passing yards per contest throughout 17 regular-season contests in 2021. Only the Baltimore Ravens fielded a worse passing defense last season. Head coach Pete Carroll relieved former defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. of his duties at the conclusion of the campaign and has guaranteed a defensive makeover as they head into a rebuilding 2022 campaign. General manager John Schneider has not done enough to address an underwhelming secondary, however. The Seahawks allowed D.J. Reed to sign a lucrative contract with the New York Jets, and the only borderline notable move they made at the position was the signing of veteran journeymen Artie Burns.
The Seahawks drafted a pair of intriguing mid-round cornerbacks in UTSA’s Tariq Woolen and Cincinnati’s Coby Bryant. Woolen is a raw receiver-turner-corner prospect that needs time to develop while continuing to acclimate to his new position, and Seattle should be hesitant to overly rely on fourth-round rookies anyway. Schneider and Carroll simply haven’t done enough in the personnel department to guarantee improvement from last year’s less-than-desirable defensive performances. Bradberry would immediately step into a starting role opposite Burns or Sidney Jones IV while allowing their younger players to develop and learn in a reserve role.