Eagles Interested In Getting CBs James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox Reps At Safety

Despite a down year in 2023, the Eagles plan to keep cornerback James Bradberry for the upcoming campaign. However, after adding defensive backs Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean in the first two rounds of this year’s draft, the club is seemingly interested in seeing how the soon-to-be 31-year-old veteran looks at safety.

On the first day of Philadelphia’s mandatory minicamp last week, head coach Nick Sirianni told reporters, including Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com, that Bradberry would get some reps at safety, citing the fact that a number of high-end corners have become high-end safeties in the latter stages of their careers (video link). Unfortunately, as Jeff Neiburg of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, Bradberry sustained an injury early in the practice and did not return.

Per Neiburg’s Inquirer colleage, Jeff McLane, Bradberry suffered an abductor injury that kept him out of the remainder of the Eagles’ three-day minicamp. It is not considered a serious issue, though Sirianni obviously did not get much of a chance to see how Bradberry looked at a different position. It appears the 2020 Pro Bowler will be cleared in time for training camp, so perhaps the experiment will continue then.

Meanwhile, longtime slot man Avonte Maddox is also taking snaps at safety, as Neiburg observes. Like Bradberry, Maddox struggled in 2023, though the latter was limited to just four games due to a torn pectoral muscle. This offseason, he was released in a cost-cutting move but later re-signed to a modest one-year pact, and he acknowledged that learning the safety position could extend his career.

“I know the nickel spot really well, and I feel like something that’s going to help me in my career is to learn the safety spot,” Maddox said. “When you get older, you get a little bit slower.”

Neiburg said that Maddox did take first-team reps at his familiar nickel post during minicamp, but he also saw second-team action at safety behind presumptive starters Reed Blankenship and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. DeJean is also capable of playing multiple positions in the defensive backfield.

New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prizes versatility, and the esteemed DC is tasked with fixing a defense that yielded the seventh-most total yards per game and second-most passing yards per game in 2023. The offseason additions of Gardner-Johnson, Mitchell, and DeJean infused much-needed talent into the unit, and the hope is that Fangio will be able to maximize that talent.

“We’ll throw a lot at them in training camp to see what best fits for them, what they’re good at, and then try and whittle it down, but always keeping some stuff in the bank in case we need it at some point during the season,” Fangio said last month. “We have a system that is versatile, we like to think. It needs to be versatile because every week you’re facing different strengths of an offense, different schemes. So what you play in one week 10, 15 times, you may not play at all the next week. You have to have a versatile system for the offenses today in the NFL. What we’ll eventually do is learn what our guys are best at.”

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