James Bradberry

Giants Restructure James Bradberry’s Deal

Holding less than $600K in cap space going into the weekend, the Giants created some breathing room Saturday. They restructured James Bradberry‘s contract, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets.

The team created $2.7MM in cap room by redoing their top cornerback’s contract. This marks the second time this year the team has used the Bradberry pact to add funds. Big Blue created $4MM in cap space with its previous base-to-bonus conversion involving Bradberry’s contract.

While the Giants have made some personnel missteps under their current regime, the Bradberry contract has worked out. The Giants gave the former Dave Gettleman Panthers draftee a three-year, $43.5MM deal in March 2020. Bradberry made his first Pro Bowl last season and has four interceptions as a Giant.

The 28-year-old defender’s deal was already set to count $20.5MM on the Giants’ 2022 cap. That number will again rise. Given Bradberry’s performance and his high cap number next season, the Giants would seemingly stand to benefit from an extension that keeps their standout cover man in New York into the mid-2020s. New York also has Adoree’ Jackson set to count $15.5MM against the cap next season. The cornerbacks’ 2022 cap figures are third and fourth on the team — behind Leonard Williams and Kenny Golladay.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Darnold, Giants, Sanders

Before the legal tampering period kicked off, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com said it was more likely than not that the Jets would trade Sam Darnold, assuming that BYU QB Zach Wilson — whom the Jets would select with the No. 2 overall pick to replace Darnold — “checks the important boxes during the pre-draft process.” Cimini said at the time that there was a market for Darnold, and he named Washington, the Bears, the Seahawks, the Texans, and the 49ers as potential landing spots.

But since then, WFT signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chicago acquired Andy Dalton. Obviously, neither of those QBs are long-term answers, but they do at least obviate an immediate need for a signal-caller. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are moving forward with Russell Wilson, Houston may be unable to trade incumbent QB Deshaun Watson in light of the sexual abuse allegations that have been levied against him, and it’s unclear how actively San Francisco is pursuing an upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo. As such, the Jets might not be able to trade Darnold, and it will be interesting to see if that will impact the team’s decision with respect to Zach Wilson (or any other rookie passer).

Now for more out of the Empire State:

  • In less exciting Jets news, the team is still looking into free agent kickers and wants to find a starting-caliber corner, as Cimini writes. The CB need will probably be filled in the draft; Cimini does not expect the club to pursue Richard Sherman, despite the obvious Sherman-Robert Saleh connection.
  • It might go without saying, but when the Giants agreed to a three-year, $63MM pact with DL Leonard Williams a few days ago, Williams agreed to drop his grievance concerning his 2020 franchise tag, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Williams was tagged as a defensive tackle but believed he should have received a defensive end tag, and if he had prevailed, his tag number for 2021 would have jumped to $21.4MM. Since he got a $21MM AAV on his extension, things worked out just fine for him in the end.
  • Per Dan Duggan of The Athletic, Williams — who is clearly not afraid to bet on himself — pushed for a shorter contract so that he can hit the open market again before he turns 30. Duggan says the Giants have explored restructures for 2020 signees James Bradberry and Blake Martinez, something the club may need to really push for now that it has agreed to a big-money deal for WR Kenny Golladay.
  • The Giants signed veteran TE Kyle Rudolph earlier this week, but his addition does not impact Evan Engram‘s status with the team, a source tells Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. Engram will play out the 2021 season on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal and hopes for a strong platform performance after struggling a bit in 2020.
  • These days, instead of being forced to reach out to agents to convince their clients to play in western New York, agents are the ones calling the Bills, as Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News writes. Head coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane have created a winning club and a positive culture, and players around the league are taking notice and now see Buffalo as an attractive destination. While the Bills didn’t have a ton of cap space heading into this year’s free agent cycle — or many major holes to fill — they did bring in WR Emmanuel Sanders, whom they had targeted for several years. Sanders is a prime example of the changing feelings towards Buffalo, saying “[w]ho wouldn’t want to be part of it?” (via John Wawrow of the Associated Press).

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/21/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Promoted from practice squad: OL Danny Isidora
  • Waived: TE Kevin Rader

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

 

COVID-19 Latest: Giants, Bubble, Rosters

The biggest game (to date) of this Giants season will take place without Jason Garrett. The team’s first-year offensive coordinator tested positive for COVID-19, and the Giants announced former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens will call plays against his old team in Week 15. The Giants converted their Thursday practice into a remote session and have announced no high-risk close contacts of Garrett have emerged. The former Cowboys HC may also miss the Giants’ Week 16 game against the Ravens. Hired as Cleveland’s running backs coach in 2018, Kitchens rose to the position of offensive coordinator that year and made the jump to become the Browns’ head coach in 2019. That ended in a one-and-done scenario, but Kitchens found his way to Joe Judge‘s staff this year.

Here is the latest on the NFL’s coronavirus front:

  • In another blow to Big Blue, the team announced James Bradberry will miss Sunday night’s game. The Giants placed their top cornerback, and arguably their top player this season, on the reserve/COVID-19 list. This is not related to Garrett’s positive virus test, according to the team, which revealed Bradberry has not tested positive for the coronavirus. Bradberry came in contact with a COVID-positive person while receiving chiropractic treatment away from the Giants’ facility, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). The Giants not having Bradberry will weaken their chances of knocking off a nine-win Browns team. Pro Football Focus rates Bradberry as its No. 6 overall corner.
  • Not only will the NFL not follow the other three major American professional sports by using a centralized playoff location, the league will also not mandate teams be sequestered in home-market bubbles for the postseason. Teams may still provide hotel rooms for players who choose such an arrangement, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, but the league and the NFLPA agreed they will not force players on playoff teams to be away from their families.
  • Following the unusual Dez Bryant situation that left the Ravens a man down for their Week 13 game against the Cowboys, the NFL made another adjustment to its pregame roster policy. If a player must leave the field pregame because of a positive COVID test or because he qualifies as a high-risk close contact, teams may activate a replacement, Pelissero tweets. The usual rule of teams submitting their inactives 90 minutes before games left Baltimore down a player against Dallas, after Bryant was forced to leave the field shortly before kickoff. Teams will now be able to make an emergency activation in such instances.

James Bradberry Chose Giants Over Lions

The Redskins and Jets loomed as known suitors for James Bradberry, but the standout cornerback chose the Giants. But neither the Redskins nor the Jets finished second in this pursuit.

Bradberry said his final decision was a Giants-over-Lions move. Giants GM Dave Gettleman, who drafted Bradberry in the second round when he was with the Panthers, played a role in Bradberry’s choice.

It was either the Lions or New York, and I felt like New York was a better fit for me,” Bradberry said during an appearance on the Jim Rome Show (via the New York Post). “I knew Mr. Gettleman; I know what type of organization he’s trying to build over there. 

“… I feel like both organizations were great; I feel like both coaches were great. I just feel New York might have been a better feel for me. It’s a great city; it’s something new for me.”

It took a three-year, $43.5MM offer for Bradberry to sign with the Giants. The Lions went in a less expensive direction after finishing second here. They instead signed the recently released Desmond Trufant for two years and $20MM.

It appears Bradberry was Detroit’s first choice as their Darius Slay replacement. The Lions subsequently traded Slay to the Eagles. Going with a lucrative Bradberry pact and trading Slay would have been interesting, however, given the Lions’ hesitancy about paying Slay — a three-time Pro Bowler. Bradberry, 26, is two years younger but has yet to be selected to a Pro Bowl.

The Lions have Trufant and slot man Justin Coleman as their top cornerbacks, post-Slay, and have been frequently mentioned as the team that will select Ohio State corner Jeff Okudah in mock drafts. Bradberry will now anchor the Giants’ cornerback corps.

James Bradberry To Sign With Giants

Another one of the top free agents is off the board. Cornerback James Bradberry will be going to the Giants on a three-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Bradberry’s pact will be worth $45MM, with $32MM of it being guaranteed. We heard a couple of weeks ago that the Panthers were unlikely to re-sign Bradberry, with Carolina being reluctant to dole out this kind of cash as they enter somewhat of a rebuild. The Jets were interested in Bradberry as were many other teams, meaning the Jets have been interested in but unable to land seemingly every big free agent so far.

Bradberry was one of the top corners available and he likely helped set the market for Byron Jones, who agreed to sign with the Dolphins moments later. Bradberry was drafted by the Panthers in the second-round back in 2016, and spent his first four years in Carolina. He’s started at least 15 games in each of the past three years, and has had at least ten passes defended in each of his four pro seasons.

The Giants’ secondary struggled mightily last year, so this was very much a position of need for them. They cut long-time starter Janoris Jenkins towards the end of last year after multiple clashes with the coaching staff, and were left with a bunch of inexperienced young guys at corner. First-round pick Deandre Baker was a disappointment as a rookie, and New York is hoping Bradberry can provide some stability to the unit. It’s the first major move of the Joe Judge era.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

CB Rumors: Harris, Bills, Jones, Dolphins, Trufant, Jets

The latest on key cornerbacks from around the NFL:

  • The Jets remain zeroed in on James Bradberry, but they’re also in the hunt for a second free agent cornerback. That search could lead them to Desmond Trufant, Connor Hughes of The Athletic tweets. Trufant will be cut loose by at Atlanta this week.
  • The Dolphins are among the clubs that have discussed impending Dallas free agent Byron Jones, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. You can add Miami to the list of previously reported suitors for Jones, which includes the Jets, Raiders, and Eagles.
  • More from Anderson (via Twitter), who notes that the Bills are now in on veteran Chris Harris. They join the Cowboys, Bills, Jets, Raiders, and other clubs in search of the experienced secondary help that Harris would provide.

Jets Targeting Pass Rushers

The Jets are seeking some pass-rush help, and they’re eyeing some of the top names on the market. Sources tell Connor Hughes of The Athletic that “the Jets are doing their homework on Jadeveon Clowney” and are among the teams “in on him.” The Jets are also planning to “actively pursue” Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler.

The team could alternatively look to the trade market for help. Hughes writes that the Jets are expected to make a call on Ravens defensive end Matt Judon, who is expected to receive the franchise tag after finishing 2019 with a career-high 9.5 sacks. However, Hughes cautions that the organization may be wary to give up too much draft capital, especially when they’re looking to fill holes via the draft.

Hughes also expects the Jets to be in on a number of offensive lineman, including Joe Thuney and Graham Glasgow. We heard yesterday that the organization was planning on pursuing Redskins lineman Trent Williams. The front office could even pursue cornerback James Bradberry, according to the writer.

The Jets will have a whole lot of money to throw at a pass-rusher, as they’re currently sitting with more than $60MM in projected cap space. Hughes notes that the organization could easily move on from the likes of cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson, lineman Brian Winters, and others, which would open up an additional $20MM to $27MM in cap space.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

James Bradberry Unlikely To Re-Sign With Panthers

Panthers cornerback James Bradberry is eligible to hit the open market later this month, and he has 22 teams interested in his services to some degree. The Panthers may be one of those teams, but do not look for Bradberry to return to Carolina in 2020.

As the 2019 season drew to a close, we heard that the Panthers were prioritizing an extension for Bradberry, and that GM Marty Hurney had asked his talented DB to be patient, thereby implying that an offer would be forthcoming. However, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic says that while there was some conversation between player and team in the fall, those talks did not advance very far (Twitter link).

Rodrigue says that the Panthers would not increase their offer, and the team “went quiet” after that. Further, because Carolina is entering a rebuild, a franchise tag — at a cost of roughly $16.5MM — is not an option.

Bradberry is one of the best corners available in free agency this year, and he is one of those players that looks better on the field than he does in advanced metrics evaluations. Given the level of interest in him, the clear consensus from around the league is that he is much better than the analytics suggest — Pro Football Focus ranked him as a middle-of-the-road defender in 2019 — and since he will only be 27 by the time the 2020 season starts, the small-school (Samford) product may not yet have hit his ceiling.

Bradberry is shooting for a deal that will pay him more than $15MM per season, and with 22 teams taking a look, he may just get what he’s asking for.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, OL, Patriots, Kilgore

Add the Jets to the teams in the James Bradberry market. Cornerback resides among the many needs in New York, and the Jets are “very interested” in the Panthers starter, Connor Hughes of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Twenty-two teams have expressed some degree of interest on Bradberry, per Hughes. This includes the Redskins, now run by longtime Panthers coach Ron Rivera. The Giants are interested, but Hughes notes the No. 1 cornerback price tag will likely push them out of the running.

Here is the latest from the AFC East, first moving to other Jets rumors from Indianapolis:

  • A high probability exists the Jets will be the rare team to replace its entire starting offensive line. Week 1’s front five — Kelvin Beachum, Kelechi Osemele, Ryan Kalil, Brian Winters and Brandon Shell — are either unlikely to be back or certainties (in Osemele’s case) not to return, and Hughes notes that the Jets are eyeing four new O-line starters. Alex Lewis, a 2019 trade get who took over after Osemele’s injury, is a free agent but could be the player from last year’s front retained. The Jets are eyeing guards Joe Thuney and Graham Glasgow, per Hughes. While the Jets want to come away with a high-end free agent — they are also in on Jack Conklin — GM Joe Douglas will look to the draft to fill much of the O-line needs, Hughes adds. This points to Gang Green being in the market for this atypically stacked tackle class at No. 11.
  • Thuney is expected to cost at least $14MM, with Jeff Howe of The Athletic adding his bidding could push a guard-high $15MM. The Patriots have seen Nate Solder and Trent Brown sign O-line-record money the past two offseasons; they are not expected to try to keep Thuney. Even Thuney’s backup could have a big market. Ted Karras, a full-time starter only in 2019, may be set to earn command a near-$10MM-AAV deal, per Howe. That would be a good indication of the recently seller-happy O-line market hitting another level.
  • The Jets have also been in the market for edge rushers for years, finishing second in 2018’s Khalil Mack sweepstakes and seeing a player they wanted to turn into an edge defender — Anthony Barr — renege on a deal at the 11th hour. League sources expect Gang Green to target Dante Fowler, Hughes notes. The Rams’ bevy of big contracts will likely limit them from franchise-tagging Fowler. The Jets are also interested in Matt Judon, though the Ravens are likely to tag him. He could be a tag-and-trade option, however.
  • Despite their desperation for edge help, the Jets are not expected to be in the Jadeveon Clowney market. An issue with what some Texans sources described as a “cavalier attitude” made Douglas leery of pursuing a Clowney trade last year and has him looking elsewhere for outside linebacker aid, per Hughes. Clowney’s price tag figures to be immense. The Jets hold $49MM-plus in cap space but have many needs.
  • Optimism exists Devin McCourty will be back in New England on a third contract, Howe adds. McCourty and the Patriots are expected to meet before week’s end. The standout safety has spent all 10 seasons of his career in New England. With Jason McCourty still under contract, Devin returning to the Pats should not exactly surprise.
  • Like the Jets, the Dolphins could have a retooled offensive front. They are looking around for centers to replace Daniel Kilgore, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Kilgore has started 17 games since signing with the Dolphins in 2018. Releasing him in the final year of his contract would save the Dolphins $4MM.