CB James Braderry
The New York Giants had a glaring hole at cornerback. They released veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins prior to their week 15 game after he made inappropriate comments to a Giants fan on social media. Jenkins was undoubtedly the best cornerback on the team and the other options were inexperienced, as Deandre Baker, Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine were all rookies and Grant Haley was a second-year player.
On March 16th, the Giants announced that they had agreed to a three-year contract with former Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry. The deal was reportedly worth $43.5 million or $14.5 million annually.
Bradberry was rated as the second-best available free agent cornerback behind Byron Jones, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, who would go on to sign a five-year $82.5 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. The Jones deal works out to be roughly $16.5 million annually.
Both Jones and Bradberry are coming off of their rookie deals with their former teams and are 26-years old. Jones seemingly fit the defensive scheme of the New York Giants better than Bradberry, as he has played a hybrid safety/cornerback role with the Cowboys in the past and the Giants are fans of employing versatile players in different roles as a means of expanding their defensive playbook.
However, Bradberry has certainly faced much tougher competition than Jones, as the top receivers in his former NFC South division include the likes of Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and DJ Moore and has done well drawing the coverage assignments against them.
While Bradberry’s coverage skills certainly rank with the top cornerbacks in the National Football League, his tackling skills leave a lot to be desired. When looking at his skill set, they are very much in line with those of Janoris Jenkins when in his prime.
Bradberry was the second-round draft of Dave Gettleman and the Carolina Panthers in 2016 when the team selected him with the 62nd overall selection out of Samford University. He would perform well in the preseason of 2016, which led to Gettleman and the Panthers releasing Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman and naming Bradberry the starting cornerback.
Last season Bradberry had 57 tackles, one sack, and three interceptions while giving up only one touchdown to opposing receivers. Given the level of talent he faced, this is an excellent testament to his coverage abilities. Bradberry was targeted 81 times and allowed only 48 receptions to opposing receivers. PFF gave Bradberry a 61.0 overall grade for his 2019 performance.
At first glance, it would appear that the Giants should have ponied up the additional money that it would have taken to land Byron Jones who seemingly fit their defensive scheme better and who graded out as a better cornerback. However, when taking into effect the differences in taxes between New York/New Jersey and Florida, it would have likely taken more money and the Giants would have certainly had to have offered more years, making the Bradberry deal seem more financially prudent.
In the end, the Giants were able to land a lockdown cornerback with experience playing against some of the best wide receivers in the league twice a year to serve as a veteran presence for their young cornerback corps.
With Dallas extending star wideout Amari Cooper, Terry McLaurin having an excellent rookie year with the Washington Redskins last season, and veteran Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery lining up opposite the Giants cornerbacks twice a year, his presence will be a welcome one.