James Bradberry is now the Eagles CB2: What to expect from him in 2022
Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman continues to put together one of his best off-season’s in recent memory, and it only got better by adding former Giants CB James Bradberry to a 1-year deal for up to $10 million dollars. The Giants found themselves in a compromising situation with dwindling cap space in a rebuild, and Bradberry became a common sense cap casualty. Despite having multiple teams looking to pay Bradberry more to fill their CB spot, Bradberry chose the Eagles citing their competitiveness and system fit. So much for free agents not wanting to come and play in Philadelphia as the Eagles have picked up several key additions this off-season via the free agent market.
Philly has now addressed one of their biggest holes on defense, and with Bradberry joining incumbents Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox, the Eagles now field one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Lets take a look at Bradberry’s tape from 2021 to see what the Eagles are getting and how he may fit with their defense.
In typical Eagles form, James Bradberry’s deal includes four voidable years.
Signing bonus: $6.215M
Base salary: $1.035M
Incentives: Up to $2.5M
Bradberry carries a cap charge of just $2.278M for 2022 via this deal.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 20, 2022
James Bradberry- 6’1 211 lbs
- Pass Break Ups (PBUs)
- Short area quickness
- Long speed
James Bradberry is a true playmaker and someone that will make your defense better with his ability to create turnovers. He has 15 career INTs, with 7 of them coming in his last two seasons as a Giant. He also produced 2 fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in ’21, with his 2 fumble recoveries tying for the team lead.
James Bradberry is a maestro of breaking up passes, collecting a ridiculous 82 in his career so far, with 35 over the past two seasons. His ability to read route progressions and QB tendencies allows him to get in position quickly to break up passes as well as any CB in the NFL.
Bradberry uses all of his 211 lbs to pack a punch in the running game and is a willing tackler as a defensive back. He is really good at maintaining the edge and pushing the ball carrier back inside to his help. He’s also a good one on one tackler that can make stops in space versus any back in the NFL. He has 303 solo tackles in his career, and his toughness will be a positive addition to the Eagles defense.
As shown above Bradberry is adept at using his IQ to make plays in a variety of ways, as he’s able to see plays develop in front of him and attack down hill to break passes up or create turnovers. He has grown a lot as a cover corner during his time in the NFL and despite having a somewhat down 2021 season, he still put plenty of plays on tape that show his intelligence.
Short area quickness
There’s a big reason why Bradberry plays off coverage so frequently, because he doesn’t have the prerequisite short area quickness to stay with receivers that are able to make quick adjustments to their routes. Speed has never really been Bradberry’s calling card, so he’s had to develop his IQ and use his physicality in order to disrupt routes. When he can’t be physical however, he tends to give up quick hitting passes that add up over time. In 2021 he allowed 71 completions for 848 receiving yards and 8 TDs on 115 targets.
Bradberry tested with a 4.5 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine, so he isn’t slow by any stretch of the imagination. But on tape he showed several times where he was either beat immediately at the line of scrimmage (LOS), or was unable to keep up with a receiver deep down field. When he’s able to get his hands on the receiver he can prevent big plays over the top, but when he can’t make contact things can get ugly.
Because of his lack of lateral quickness and long speed, Bradberry has a habit of getting grabby with receivers on their routes. During the tape I watched of his play in 2021, Bradberry drew a few flags for being too grabby or overly aggressive. He was hit with 5 total defensive penalties in ’21, and he’s averaging slightly over 4 penalties per season. Cornerback is one of the most difficult positions on the field to play, so I understand how penalties happen on an island, but defensive pass interference is a back breaking penalty during games, and one the Eagles can ill afford consistently.
To say that this move was a home run would be an understatement. Bradberry not only fits an immediate need for the Eagles, he also doesn’t cost the Eagles much on paper ($2.278 million against the cap in ’22), making this a win-win. Bradberry has been one of the better cover corners in the NFL, and even if he’s losing a step at this point in his career, he’s joining a defense that will help to mask some of his inefficiencies. Playing opposite of Eagles CB Darius Slay will give Bradberry the ability to play mostly against the WR2’s of opposing teams, which more often than not gives the Eagles defense an advantage. It’s encouraging to see Eagles GM Howie Roseman continue to address Philadelphia’s needs in a proactive and intelligent way, identifying good players on prove it deals.
Bradberry’s average lateral speed and diminishing long speed are two areas for concern, but they should also be mitigated to an extent by joining a less aggressive defensive scheme in Philly. He won’t be asked to run stride for stride with opposing WRs as often in Philly, and will be able to play a bit more off man/zone coverage to keep plays in front of him. I imagine that Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon will draw up plays that accentuate Bradberry’s strengths and put him in position to win more often than not.
This was an easy one to grade even with some of Bradberry’s difficulties with quicker players and his diminishing long speed. Being tasked with taking on WR2’s as opposed to each team’s alpha each week will help Bradberry in the long run and should provide him a chance to bounce back to his ’20 level production. Bradberry should get an opportunity to prove his worth, and maybe even get a shot to re-sign with Philly for the near future.