James Bradberry

Panthers, Bradberry Discussing Extension

The Panthers checked off a key offseason task by signing Shaq Thompson to a four-year extension, and they have identified James Bradberry as another homegrown player they would like to retain.

Bradberry’s agent and the Panthers have discussed an extension, but the parties have not agreed on terms yet. The fourth-year cornerback will be a free agent at season’s end. With Thompson locked down, Bradberry rates as the Panthers’ top UFA-to-be.

When (my agent) told me they had talked and we hadn’t quite reached a point of agreement, I pretty much understood I might be heading to free agency or I might get franchise-tagged,” Bradberry said, via Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required). “He just told me, ‘Just be patient.’ We’ve got three games left and you never know what the owner might decide.”

Thompson agreed on a deal that will make him a top-10 wage-earner at his position; it will take such a commitment to keep Bradberry off the market. The Panthers use Bradberry as their top corner, and given the position’s stagnant market, the Division I-FCS success story is understandably being patient for a quality deal here. Ex-Panther Josh Norman‘s $15MM-AAV contract — agreed to in the spring of 2016 — still stands as the league’s second-highest cornerback salary.

Bradberry also confirmed he will not hold out, if the Panthers decide to use the franchise tag on him. The cornerback tag is expected to be worth around $16.5MM, Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes, and a scenario where the Panthers use the tag in this case would not bother Bradberry.

That’s a lot of money for one year. I understand Le’Veon Bell, why he sat out. I understand why guys don’t wanna sign it,” Bradberry said. “But I don’t think I’m at liberty to sit out. I don’t really want to sit out and then have the (potential) lockout year. That’d be two years I’d have to sit out.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Notes: Newton, HC Candidates, Bradberry

Panthers QB Cam Newton will undergo foot surgery, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, Newton is expected to be fully ready and able by March. Rapoport says Carolina has not ruled out retaining Newton — not that the team would publicly say anything different — but the expectation remains that the Panthers will look to trade the former No. 1 overall pick,

The QB market may be unusually robust in 2020, and Newton may be the most desirable piece. The Panthers will not give Newton away, but if they “get a large deal to make it worth their while,” they will pull the trigger.

Now for more out of Charlotte:

  • Of course, what the Panthers do with Newton may depend on who they hire as their permanent head coach. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reiterates his view that the Panthers will seek an offensive-minded or QB-driven coach, and what that person thinks of Newton, Kyle Allen, and Will Grier could impact the club’s offseason plans in a big way.
  • In the same piece linked above, Rapoport suggests that owner David Tepper will of course be on the lookout for a top-flight coordinator and someone who is unafraid to embrace analytics, but he suggests that Tepper’s top priority will be a strong manager of people. RapSheet names ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy, 49ers DC Robert Saleh, and Ravens OC Greg Roman as just a few of the possibilities.
  • Even if the Panthers retain GM Marty Hurney — which is not a guarantee — Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says Tepper, the former minority owner of the Steelers, could look to bring familiar faces from Pittsburgh to Carolina. Tepper plans to name an assistant general manager to focus on pro personnel evaluation and a vice president of football operations, and sources say he could be eyeing Steelers GM Kevin Colbert — whose contract is up at the end of the season — and/or vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan.
  • The Panthers have 28 players eligible for free agency this offseason, and Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic examines the decisions that the team will have to make with respect to a few of those players. The club just signed LB Shaq Thompson to a four-year extension, and Rodrigue’s source says the Panthers have made CB James Bradberry their next top priority.

Extra Points: Bradberry, Jenkins, Lions

Count Panthers head coach Ron Rivera among those who’d like to see cornerback James Bradberry signed long-term.

“He is a guy that I hope we do keep around because he is important to what we’ve done,” Rivera told Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. “We’ve kind of shown that you have to be able to keep that type of a corner around.”

It’s pretty easy to surmise that Rivera is talking about former cornerback Josh Norman, who left the organization following a messy contract dispuit. Since then, Bradberry has been one of the lone consistencies among Panthers defensive backs, so it only makes sense that the coaching staff would want to keep him around. The 25-year-old is heading into the final season of his rookie contract.

“I think I’ve shown that I am capable of being a top corner in this league,” Bradberry said. “I just had to make sure I stayed on my P’s and Q’s, on top of my toes. Did a lot of film study each and every week.”

That commitment has certainly paid off. The former second-rounder had another solid season in 2018, finishing with 70 tackles, 15 passes defended, and one interception.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie played a role in convincing safety Malcolm Jenkins to attend the team’s minicamp. The veteran had previously missed the team’s voluntary workouts, and there was concern that he’d skip training camp in pursuit of a new deal. However, after talking to Lurie, Jenkins was in a better frame of mind. “One of the reasons that I feel comfortable being here,” Jenkins told Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer, “is because of my relationship with Jeff Lurie and understanding that I do feel valued and respected.”
  • The Lions did not waive Michael Roberts as an injured player, meaning there was no injury settlement, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. We learned yesterday that Roberts’ trade from the Lions to the Patriots was called off, and the tight end was subsequently waived by Detroit While a failed physical has been the assumed reason for the failed trade, Birkett notes that different teams’ doctors could have differing opinions.
  • Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton has yet to ink his exclusive rights free agent tender and continues to push the club for a new deal. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes that the player may have been inspired by teammate Alejandro Villanueva, who pulled off a similar move in 2017. “I can’t say if it’s better to sign now or later,” Villanueva said. “But betting on yourself, in this business, usually works.” Fowler writes that the two players have discussed the matter, although Hilton may not see the same kind of resolution as Villanueva.

NFC Notes: Morris, Packers, Lions, Bradberry

Alfred Morris only played 112 snaps during his first season with the Cowboys, and Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com writes that the veteran running back’s future with the organization “remains murky.”

According to the writer, the Cowboys believe Morris has more success when he has more carries, but that isn’t a possibility in Dallas. Ezekiel Elliott should see even more responsibility in his second NFL season, and the team also re-signed veteran Darren McFadden this offseason.

Despite the uncertainty, running backs coach Gary Brown said the 28-year-old continues to keep his head high.

“Straight pro,” he said. “Doesn’t talk about it. Doesn’t mention it. Comes out has fun with it. Enjoys being around his teammates. That’s the kind of guys you need.”

As Williams points out, Morris is set to make $1.2MM next season and count for $2.14MM against the cap. While that would seemingly make him expendable, Brown said he’d love to keep all of his players.

“You just don’t know from year to year what’s going to happen, so you try to keep as many great players around as you can and then the business takes over after that,” Brown said. “Obviously, we would like everybody to stay, but that’s not realistic. We’ve got to make sure we’re training everybody, and we’re covering all our bases, and let whatever happens happen.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFC…

  • Packers running back Jamaal Williams‘ four-year rookie contract includes a $565,992 signing bonus, and ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky notes that that’s the only guaranteed money in the deal. The fourth-rounder’s contract could be worth up to $2.96MM, and Williams is set to earn a base salary of $465K in 2017.
  • If he isn’t looking for a lucrative contract, then ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein believes free agent wideout Jeremy Maclin would be a logical fit for the Lions. The hypothetical acquisition would allow the team to roll a versatile three-wideout set that could include any combination of Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and/or tight end Eric Ebron. Rothstein also points to the relative experience among the team’s other wide receivers.
  • Panthers cornerback James Bradberry fractured his left wrist today and will be in a cast for the next six weeks, reports Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter). Head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion told Max Henson of Panthers.com that the defensive back could still participate in next week’s minicamp, and he’s expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp. The 2016 second-round pick started 13 games for the Panthers last season, compiling 59 tackles and two interceptions.
  • Former Minnesota Gophers linebacker Jack Lynn is “close” to signing with the Falcons, reports Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter). The four-year player finished his collegiate career with 77 tackles and 0.5 sacks in 13 games.

Draft Signings: Packers, Seahawks, Chargers

The Packers have signed second-round pick Jason Spriggs, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. The tackle from Indiana will earn just over $5MM on his four-year deal with nearly $3MM guaranteed. Spriggs is now the the fifth Packers draft pick to sign and only two rookies remain unsigned for Green Bay in first-round pick Kenny Clark and third-rounder Kyler Fackrell.

Here are the rest of today’s draft signings from round two and lower:

  • The Panthers announced the signing of second-round cornerback James Bradberry and seventh-round tight end Beau Sandland. Bradberry started his collegiate career at Arkansas State but finished up at Samford.
  • Derek Watt, former Wisconsin fullback-tight end and J.J. Watt‘s brother, signed his sixth-round rookie deal with the Chargers today, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Raiders announced the signing of seventh-round guard Vadal Alexander. Alexander is the first member of Oakland’s draft class to officially put pen to paper.
  • The Raiders also announced the signing of quarterback Connor Cook. The Michigan State product fell to Oakland in the fourth-round of last month’s draft.

Earlier Updates:

  • The Seahawks signed seventh-round pick Zac Brooks, as Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times tweets. All ten of Seattle’s draft picks have now signed.
  • The Chargers signed fourth-round linebacker Joshua Perry, as Jenna Laine tweets.
  • The Ravens have signed fourth-round cornerback Tavon Young, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • The Bengals announced (Twitter link) the signing of seventh-round safety Clayton Fejedelem.
  • The Cardinals signed three of their rookies in cornerback Brandon Williams, center Evan Boehm, and cornerback Harlan Miller (Twitter link).