The NY Giants needed a #1 cornerback and they got one when they signed James Bradberry in free agency; here’s our evaluation and grade for the signing.
Heading into the 2020 NFL free agency period, many NY Giants fans had their eyes set on the likes of top-end players such as Byron Jones and Jadeveon Clowney. We found out quickly that the Giants were going to take a different approach to free agency this time around, signing young players to short-term deals.
Former Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry fit that billing, and Dave Gettleman hopped on his former draft pick early on in free agency. Despite what Pro Football Focus might say – the grading and analytics site has never given Bradberry a grade higher than 70 – James Bradberry is easily one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.
Just 26-years-old, Bradberry should have his best football left in front of him and improved every season since he was taken in the second round of the 2016 draft out of Samford. Then, he was considered a very raw prospect that had the size needed to succeed in the NFL but he was lacking the high-level experience most teams seek.
During his four years in Carolina, the 6’1, 210-pound cornerback refined his technique and became one of the few corners in the NFL that actually traveled with an opposing team’s biggest receiving threat. Despite this, he allowed over 80 yards just twice in 2019 – once to Mike Evans (101 yards) and once to Michael Thomas (88 yards).
Considering he plays each of them twice in a year in addition to Julio Jones, NY Giants fans should be very encouraged about what he can do shadowing the wideouts in the NFC East. Although he’s never made a Pro Bowl, Bradberry is considered one of the most underrated defensive backs in the league and should have no problem making one with Big Blue.
Now, onto the major part of the equation — the compensation. Gettleman inked Bradberry to a 3 year/$45M dollar deal with $32M guaranteed. While it’s positive that the deal is only for three years, his $15M APY puts him squarely in the top-three for cornerback contracts despite him not playing quite up to that level at this point.
Is he top 10? Top 15? Maybe. But this compensation pays him at an All-Pro level. We all know that you’ve got to pay up in free agency to get quality players though, and the fact that the Giants can comfortably get out of this deal after only two seasons makes it attractive.
Even the biggest James Bradberry fan would have to admit that he got paid at the absolute highest level possible for him, so it’s hard to argue that this contract was in any way a steal for Big Blue.
Still, the NY Giants direly needed a difference-maker at cornerback, and Bradberry is that. He’s big and proven he can stick with the top talent in this league. All things considered, he probably should have gotten a much longer contract, so we’ll chalk that up as a win.
James Bradberry is going to have a lot of pressure on him to live up to his monster contract average, but if he plays as he did in Carolina Giants fans will be happy with this contract.
GMENHQ official grade: B