Dave Gettleman drafted cornerback James Bradberry when he was with Carolina. Does this make him an ideal signing for the NY Giants, or a biased move that is destined to fail? We examine.
There are few players that are harder to judge in this free agency class than cornerback James Bradberry. One thing is for certain; The NY Giants have a major need at cornerback, and any and all productive corners on the open market need to be considered.
So, is James Bradberry a productive corner? The short answer is yes. After examining some film and taking a deep dive into his stats, Bradberry is a player that’s much better than his Pro Football Focus grade would indicate. While PFF does a solid job with grading defensive backs (along with offensive lineman), it’s hard to understand why he has graded out so low over the course of his four-year career.
Despite posting a solid quarterback rating allowed of just 88.6 – which ranks top-ten in the league amongst corners – and giving up just 59% of passes completed his way, Bradberry somehow received just a 60.9 overall grade and a 64.5 coverage grade from PFF. That’s hard to understand, considering Bradberry only allowed one 100 yard receiver all season (Mike Evans with 101), and only two wideouts beat him for over 80 yards (the other being Michael Thomas who needed 10 receptions to do so).
Somehow, Bradberry has not surpassed a 70 grade in terms of overall or coverage yet in his career.
This is a perfect example of why PFF is a useful tool, but not the end all be all. Standing 6’1 inches tall and weighing in at 212 pounds, Bradberry is your perfect modern-day corner that is on the same size level as most of the receivers he’s facing. As a result, he’s compiled at least 10 passes defended in each of his NFL seasons, while also coming down with 8 interceptions.
If you’re looking for a negative in Bradberry’s 2019 campaign, it’s that he allowed 68 receptions (70th-best among corners) for 709 yards (54th-best) according to Playerprofiler.com. However, this has more to do with the fact that he started 15 games for a lousy defense more than anything else.
The main knock on the former second-round draft pick out of Samford has been his tackling, as he leaves much to be desired in that regard. Still, we’ve seen many corners over the years struggle with tackling and still be able to produce at an elite level — *cough* Deion Sanders* cough*.
Bradberry has played admirably so far during his young career and he’s one of those players that fits out ideal free agent profile for the NY Giants — young, has shown he can play but has a load of untapped potential. His size is a real weapon, and the Big Blue defense is missing a bigger corner that can match up with the athletic freaks this league currently has.
The question now becomes, what is he worth? With some tossing around numbers as high as $15M per season, the Giants would have to be sure he’s the real deal to open negotiations. With Byron Jones set to hit the open market as a much more proven player and expected to land $16M-$18M per season, it’s hard to argue that Bradberry is the one to target.
However, it’s more than likely that Big Blue is not going to land all – if any – of its number-one targets. The market is sure to be hot on Bradberry, as cornerback is one of the most desired positions ins this day and age due to the many rule changes that have come over the years that favor the offense.
It’s entirely possible that NY Giants GM Dave Gettleman could favor Bradberry as he’s the one that drafted him with the Panthers back in 2016. This is where we’ll see if we really have a new Gettleman or not as if he can land him for a reasonable contract — great. If not, he’d be wise to stay away from the 26-year-old that’s sure to be overpaid.
At the end of the day, no one really knows how Bradberry will look in a new uniform and system. Is his prior play worth $15M a year? No. But free agency is about paying for what’s coming, not what’s happened.
The NY Giants should open a dialog with Bradberry and his agents, but that might be the extent of it. With a bidding war likely to ensure for the second-best corner (in many people’s eyes) on the market, Gettleman should probably sit one out.
Unless his market turns out to be softer than most anticipate, this will probably turn out to be one of those signings that a team lives to regret two-three years down the line.
Chance it happens: Moderate
What it might cost: 4 years/$60M ($35M GTD)