James Bradberry

Isaiah Rodgers In Mix To Start For Eagles; Team Considering James Bradberry Move To Safety

The Eagles decided to let both their Super Bowl LVII safety starters walk in free agency last year. That decision created issues for a defense that cratered down the stretch. A year later, Philadelphia’s secondary appears much deeper.

Part of the reason the Eagles can feel more comfortable about their DB contingent comes from a roster-stash move they made last summer. As teams were considering which players they would cut as the deadline to move down to 53 loomed in late August, the Eagles quietly added Isaiah Rodgers, a young kick returner who worked as a Colts CB starter in 2022. Of course, Rodgers was sidelined throughout last season due to a gambling ban that stemmed from extensive violations of the NFL’s policy. A year later, Rodgers may come out in better position.

Although the former sixth-round pick missed his age-25 season, he has a clear path to a rebound window ahead of what may well be a more notable free agency stay in 2025. Rodgers has been “a revelation” this offseason, per SI.com’s Albert Breer, and The Athletic’s Brooks Kubena notes the Eagles gave the three-year Colt a significant number of first-team reps during minicamp (subscription required). Despite the Eagles still rostering Darius Slay and James Bradberry and the team having re-signed Avonte Maddox not long after making him a cap casualty, it has bolstered its CB group with a host of younger talents.

Rodgers started nine games with the Colts in 2022, playing opposite Stephon Gilmore, and made an impression in part-time duty. Pro Football Focus ranked Rodgers as the NFL’s fifth-best cornerback that year. This assessment came on just 283 defensive snaps, but the 170-pound defender recovered four fumbles that year and also intercepted three passes in 2021. Training camp figures to be pivotal for Rodgers, who saw the Eagles devote the most important part of their draft to the cornerback position.

Philly drafted Quinyon Mitchell in Round 1 and Cooper DeJean in Round 2. DeJean is viewed as a corner/safety hybrid at this juncture, Breer adds, but Mitchell certainly will be treated as a hopeful long-term starter at corner. The Eagles also gave plenty of first-team reps to 2023 fourth-round pick Kelee Ringo during minicamp, Kubena adds. Ringo logged 199 defensive snaps last season, which still featured the Slay-Bradberry tandem as the CB group’s leaders.

Slay is going into his age-33 season, and his three-year, $39MM deal does not feature any 2025 guarantees. Bradberry re-signed on a three-year, $38MM pact in 2023 but could not follow up his strong ’22 campaign with impressive work last season. PFF rated Bradberry 100th at the position in 2023. The Eagles have made an effort to begin cross-training Bradberry at safety, and Breer adds the team is toying with moving the ninth-year vet to a back-line spot on a full-time basis. No guarantees remain on Bradberry’s deal post-2024.

As a few Hall of Famers have shown, corner-to-safety moves are not too uncommon. This one would come ahead of Bradberry’s age-31 season. The Eagles brought back C.J. Gardner-Johnson after his year in Detroit and still roster 2023 starter Reed Blankenship. Sydney Brown, a 2023 third-rounder, is rehabbing an ACL tear sustained in Week 18. He is a candidate to begin the season on the reserve/PUP list.

Even with Brown potentially out of the mix to start the season, the Eagles’ secondary should have more options compared to 2023. Rodgers and/or Ringo entering Week 1 as viable starter candidates would likely prompt the Eagles to strongly consider Bradberry at safety, depending on how the career-long boundary corner looks in training camp, with DeJean an interesting wild card here. A depth-based trade could conceivably come into play as well.

The Eagles submitted one of the more notable collapses in recent NFL history last season, with the defense playing the lead role in the unraveling. This figures to be an interesting season for three-time reigning playoff qualifiers, as the Slay-Bradberry-Maddox-CJGJ group intersects with a host of younger options that will be expected to take over down the line.

It is not certain if Rodgers will be part of that long-term collection, as he will be a free agent next year. But the UMass alum has a path to re-emerging after seeing the gambling scandal quickly overshadow his rookie-contract Colts contributions.

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.”

Eagles Expected To Make Move For Safety; C.J. Gardner-Johnson Back On Radar

During an offseason that centered around Jalen Hurts‘ extension, the Eagles cut costs at safety and linebacker. Both positions suffered due to the exits of Super Bowl LVII starters, and injuries played a major role at each spot. The team is planning to adjust its approach this year.

The Eagles, who released 2023 trade pickup Kevin Byard last week, are expected to make a significant addition at safety, according to the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora. The market is becoming crowded, with the Seahawks (Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs), Broncos (Justin Simmons) and Bills (Jordan Poyer) sending longtime DB pillars to street free agency.

One player who should be monitored here: C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Reports indicated the Eagles made an offer to the NFL’s 2022 co-INT leader last year, but Gardner-Johnson denied that happened. Regardless of how CJGJ exited last year, the Eagles pivoted to paying corners. Dominoes did not fall in Gardner-Johnson’s direction, as he accepted a one-year, $6.5MM Lions deal days later. The Eagles, however, realized they missed the versatile defender’s presence, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler.

Philly ended up going with Byard and Reed Blankenship as its primary safeties down the stretch, and the team cratered following a 10-1 start. Rookie contributor Sydney Brown may well begin next season on the reserve/PUP list due to the ACL tear he suffered in the team’s regular-season finale. One year remains on Blankenship’s contract, though he was a backup in 2022 behind Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps. The latter signed a two-year, $12MM Raiders deal in 2023.

Gardner-Johnson may need to accept another “prove it” deal after he missed nearly all of last season due to a pectoral tear. Though, CJGJ was among the players who made it back from an early-season pec tear to suit up before year’s end. Gardner-Johnson came off IR in Week 18 but did not return to a starting role with Detroit. The Titans should also be a team to watch for Gardner-Johnson, Fowler adds, with new Tennessee DC Dennard Wilson a fan from his time coaching Philadelphia’s DBs. Vic Fangio also coached Simmons for three seasons in Denver, being the team’s HC when it authorized a then-record extension in 2021.

Elsewhere in the Eagles’ secondary, Howie Roseman said they are keeping James Bradberry for the 2024 season. Considering Bradberry has an $8.85MM salary guarantee for the 2024 season (as part of a $20MM guarantee package from his second Eagles agreement), this is hardly surprising. But it does make age an issue in the Eagles’ secondary. Bradberry will be 31 next season, while Darius Slay turned 33 earlier this year. It could make the Eagles cautious about adding a 30-something at safety on this year’s market.

Injury Notes: Clark, Dulcich, Eagles

Frank Clark will be sidelined for a few weeks. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Broncos defensive end will miss “a couple weeks” after suffering a hip injury during yesterday’s practice.

Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like this is a long-term issue, and there’s been no indication that Clark will land on injured reserve. Per Rapoport, the veteran is considered week-to-week.

The former Pro Bowler was cut by the Broncos back in March before eventually landing in Denver. As Troy Renck of Denver7 notes, Clark has struggled to establish a role in Denver, with the 30-year-old serving as a situational pass rusher during the season opener. Clark finished that contest with a pair of tackles while appearing in 25 defensive snaps.

This comes with Baron Browning sitting on PUP, so Clark’s role could be made even more uncertain when his teammate returns. A few weeks off the field probably won’t help his case for a significant role in Denver.

2022 ended Clark’s three-year stretch of earning Pro Bowl nods, but he was still productive with the Chiefs. In 15 games, the pass rusher compiled 39 tackles and five sacks. He showed up during Kansas City’s run to a Super Bowl championship, collecting another seven tackles and 2.5 sacks in three games.

More injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Greg Dulcich is once again dealing with a hamstring injury. After missing seven games for the Broncos during the 2022 season, the tight end will once again miss multiple weeks while dealing with a hamstring injury in the same leg, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The organization intends to take it slow with Dulcich, meaning it could be a bit before he returns to the field. The 2022 third-round pick finished his rookie campaign with 33 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns.
  • A trio of Eagles players were ruled out early for Thursday Night Football. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported yesterday that running back Kenneth Gainwell (ribs), cornerback James Bradberry (concussion), and safety Reed Blankenship (ribs) would all be sidelined for Philly’s Week 2 matchup against the Vikings. The Eagles did get some good news, however, with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox being declared active for tonight’s game after being listed as questionable with a rib injury.
  • Rams wideout Puka Nacua didn’t practice today thanks to an oblique injury, according to Schefter. The rookie fifth-round pick was a standout during his NFL debut, garnering 15 targets from Matthew Stafford. Nacua ultimately finished the contest with 10 catches for 119 yards. With Cooper Kupp sidelined, the Rams may need to dig into their wide receiver depth against the 49ers.
  • Patriots cornerback Jack Jones landed on injured reserve before the season opener, keeping him off the field for at least the first month of the season. Per Albert Breer of TheMMQB, the 2022 fourth-round pick has an injury split in his contract, meaning the organization can lower Jones’ base salary from $870K to $475K as long as he sits on IR. That ends up being a loss of $22K per week for Jones.

Eagles Agree To Terms With James Bradberry

The Eagles have, as expected, seen a number of departures on defense so far in free agency. They have managed to retain a major part of their secondary, however. Cornerback James Bradberry is re-signing on a three-year, $38MM deal (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter). $20MM is guaranteed, and incentives can push the maximum value to $44MM.

The 29-year-old found himself on the open market last offseason when he was released by the Giants as part of their several cost-cutting moves. That immediately made him a key target for teams looking to add to their secondary, including an Eagles team which added a number of high-quality veterans. His one-year deal signed with Philadelphia proved to be a highly effective one.

Bradberry started all 20 games this season for the Eagles, and played a key role in their success on defense. He notched three interceptions and 17 pass breakups, adding strong coverage numbers as well. The former second-rounder allowed an opposing passer rating of just 51.6, the best such figure of his career. That made him one of the top options on the open market at his position.

It comes as little surprise that the Eagles – who were upfront about their understanding that numerous starters on defense were likely to head elsewhere – have prioritized a multi-year accord with Bradberry. His play throughout the season provided the NFC champions with one of the league’s best corner tandems alongside Darius Slay. The latter is under contract for one more year at a cap figure of over $26MM, so it will be interesting to see if this Bradberry investment will necessitate some financial maneuvering with Slay.

Bradberry did confirm he received better offers from other teams, according to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (on Twitter), he said the Eagles entered his price range. The seven-year veteran prioritized his fit in Philly compared to starting over somewhere else, even though he has started fresh three times since being a Panthers second-round pick.

After earning $7.25MM in 2022 on his first Eagles pact, Bradberry has managed to secure a contract nearly identical to the three-year, $45MM one he landed with the Giants in 2020. By earning second-team All-Pro honors last season, the Samford product proved he can still be among the top cover men in the league, and his performances (at least up until the dying moments of the Super Bowl) has given the Eagles an important degree of continuity.

Philadelphia ranked N0. 1 in the league in passing defense in 2022, allowing an average of less than 180 yards per game. They also notched 17 interceptions, which placed them fourth in the NFL. Bradberry’s contributions to those totals has obviously been recognized, and his retention will at least soften the blow of the departures which have already reportedly taken place on defense and those which are likely to follow.

2023 Top 50 NFL Free Agents

Super Bowl LVII provided the latest example of the value free agency can bring. The Chiefs revamped their receiving corps on last year’s market, while the Eagles acquired three defensive starters — including sack leader Haason Reddick. The Jaguars also used a March 2022 splurge to ignite their surprising surge to the divisional round.

Beginning with the legal tampering period, which starts at 3pm CT on Monday, and continuing with the official start to free agency (3pm Wednesday), the next several days represent a highlight on the NFL calendar. Which teams will change their 2023 outlooks for the better next week?

While the 2023 free agent class has absorbed its share of body blows and indeed lacks depth at certain spots, a few positions will bring waves of starter-level talent. Right tackle will invite some big-money decisions, and the safety and off-ball linebacker positions feature considerable depth. A few ascending talents and hidden gems appear in this class as well.

This list ranks free agents by earning potential. In terms of accomplishments, Bobby Wagner, Fletcher Cox and Lavonte David would lap most of the players included here. With each defender going into his age-33 season, however, the standouts’ ability to command big contracts is certainly not what it once was.

In terms of possible destinations, not every team is represented equally. Some teams will bring more needs and cap space into this year’s marketplace than others. With some help from Adam La Rose, here is this year’s PFR top 50 free agents list, along with potential landing spots for each player.

1. Orlando Brown Jr., T. Age in Week 1: 27

As the 49ers did two years ago with Trent Williams, the Chiefs will let Brown hit the market. This could end up benefiting the veteran tackle, who was offered a deal with an average annual value north of Williams’ tackle-record $23MM per year before last July’s franchise tag deadline. Citing insufficient guarantees, Brown turned it down. Kansas City’s offer did contain a bloated final year to bump up the AAV to $23.1MM, but will Brown – a quality left tackle but not a top-shelf option at the position – do as well this year? He will soon find out.

Brown has now made four Pro Bowls and carries positional versatility that would intrigue were he open to a return to right tackle, which by all accounts he is not. The 363-pound blocker can struggle against speed-rusher types, but he is set to be the rare accomplished left tackle in his prime to hit the market. The Chiefs sent a package including a first-round pick to the Ravens for Brown, whose bet on himself led to a $16.6MM tag and an open market. The bidding will run high, though it might not reach the places the Williams pursuit did in 2021.

The Chiefs’ exclusive negotiating rights with Brown end March 13; they have had nearly two years to complete a deal. The market will determine if the league views the sixth-year blocker as an elite-level left tackle or merely a good one. Then again, bidding wars drive up the prices for O-linemen on the market. O-line salary records have fallen four times (Williams, Corey Linsley, Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff) in free agency since 2021. This foray could give Brown the guaranteed money he seeks, and it puts the Chiefs at risk of seeing their two-year left tackle depart. The Ravens also passed on this payment back in 2021, in part because they already had Ronnie Stanley on the payroll.

The defending champions have Brown and right tackle Andrew Wylie eligible for free agency; some of their leftover funds from the Tyreek Hill trade went to Brown’s tag. Although some among the Chiefs were frustrated Brown passed on last year’s offer, the team will be hurting at a premium position if he walks. Given the importance the blindside position carries, fewer teams are in need compared to right tackle. The Titans losing Taylor Lewan and continuing to clear cap space could point to a run at Brown, though the team has a few needs up front. The Jets likely have needs at both tackle spots. Would the Bears relocate Braxton Jones to the right side? Ryan Poles was with the Chiefs when they traded for Brown, and the Bears could outmuscle anyone for cap space.

Best fits: Titans, Chiefs, Commanders

2. Mike McGlinchey, T. Age in Week 1: 28

Teams in need of right tackles will participate in one of the more interesting markets in recent memory. Above-average-to-good offensive linemen do well in free agency annually, and this year will send three experienced right tackles in their prime to the market. A five-year starter in San Francisco and former top-10 pick, McGlinchey has a good case as the best of this lot. The five-year vet’s run-blocking craft eclipses his pass-protection chops exiting Year 5, but he will walk into a competitive market. The former Notre Dame left tackle should have a lucrative deal in place during next week’s legal tampering period.

Although mutual interest existed regarding a second 49ers-McGlinchey agreement, John Lynch acknowledged the only viable path for McGlinchey to stay in San Francisco would be his market underwhelming. That seems unlikely, so right tackle-seeking teams – and there are a handful – will jockey for the sixth-year veteran. McGlinchey turned 28 in January, making this his obvious window to cash in. He rated fifth in ESPN’s run block win rate stat last season, bouncing back from the quadriceps injury that ended his 2021 season.

There is no shortage of Kyle Shanahan– or Sean McVay-influenced schemes around the league. The Bears employ Luke Getsy as their play-caller; Getsy worked for Shanahan/McVay tree branch Matt LaFleur, and the Bears’ cap space dwarfs every other team’s. After fielding a shaky O-line (on a team full of substandard position groups), Chicago needs a better idea of Justin Fields’ trajectory. Outbidding the field for the top right tackle available is a good start. The Patriots want a right tackle – on a line without a big contract presently – and the Raiders might have a say here as well. In need at multiple O-line spots, Las Vegas will have cash as well if it passes on a big QB investment.

Best fits: Bears, Patriots, Raiders

3. Jawann Taylor, T. Age in Week 1: 26

As expected, the Jaguars took Evan Engram off the market via the franchise tag. The tight end tag being $7MM cheaper than the $18.2MM offensive lineman tag always pointed Taylor toward free agency, and after never missing a start in four Duval County seasons, Taylor will be tough for the Jags to retain. They already drafted Walker Little in the 2021 second round, and no team that is currently paying a left tackle top-10 money (Cam Robinson is seventh) has a top-10 right tackle contract on the books. Taylor is expected to land at least a top-10 right tackle deal, with a $17MM-AAV figure being floated. That would place the former Florida Gator in the top five at the position, depending on how McGlinchey fares next week.

Taylor resembles the genre of player that usually populates the top of a position’s free agency market: a dependable performer who checks in below the top tier at his job. Taylor enjoyed his strongest year in his platform campaign. The former second-round pick dropped his hold count from 11 in 2021 to two in 2022. While PFF charged Taylor with five sacks allowed, Football Outsiders measured his blown-block rate at a career-low 1.3%. Offering a disparate skillset compared to McGlinchey, Taylor has fared better as a pass protector than in the run game. PFF slotted him as a top-10 pass protector among right tackles but viewed him as a dismal run-blocker.

The Jags have presumably made Taylor an offer, but other teams will probably top it. The Dolphins gave Terron Armstead a five-year, $75MM deal in 2022 but have needed a right tackle ever since Ja’Wuan James’ 2019 exit. They were forced to start in-season pickup Brandon Shell for much of the year and have cleared more than $45MM in cap space over the past two days. The team just picked up Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option, and the league’s lone southpaw starting QB needs better blindside protection after a season in which he suffered at least two concussions. Overspending on O-linemen is not the Patriots’ M.O., but they have a need at right tackle and do not have big dollars devoted to quarterback or any position up front. New England is on the hunt for a right tackle upgrade, and the team’s 2021 free agency showed it would spend when it deemed expenditures necessary.

Best fits: Dolphins, Patriots, Jaguars

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB. Age in Week 1: 31

The quarterback market cleared up this week, seeing Geno Smith and Daniel Jones extended and Derek Carr’s lengthy street free agency stretch end with $70MM in practical guarantees. Garoppolo’s injury history will affect his value, but teams kind of make it a priority to staff this position. The former Super Bowl starter is in his prime and on the market for the first time. How high this market goes will depend on what the Raiders want and what Aaron Rodgers decides.

The 49ers’ 12-game win streak that included Brock Purdy’s stunning displays began with Garoppolo at the controls. Guiding San Francisco to four straight wins, Garoppolo was at or close to his best when he suffered a broken foot in Week 13. He sported a 7-0 TD-INT ratio during that win streak and closed the season 16th in QBR. He would have walked into a better market had the injury not occurred; the setback came after a string of health issues. He tore an ACL in 2018, missed 10 games in 2020 after an ankle sprain and was significantly limited by the end of the 2021 slate due to a three-injury season. Garoppolo’s March 2022 shoulder surgery hijacked his trade market.

Ideally for Garoppolo, Rodgers returns to Green Bay or retires. While that is looking unlikelier by the day, it would put the Jets in a desperate position following Carr’s decision. The Raiders represent the other wild card. Garoppolo would slide into Josh McDaniels’ system seamlessly, given the parties’ three-plus years together in New England. The Raiders have operated a bit more stealthily compared to the Jets; they have been connected to Rodgers, Garoppolo and rolling with a rookie. Plan C here would be a tough sell given the presences of 30-year-old skill-position players Davante Adams and Darren Waller, but Las Vegas’ plans cloud Garoppolo’s market. If the Raiders pass and Rodgers chooses the Jets, Garoppolo’s earning power could drop.

McDaniels not fancying a Garoppolo reunion opens the door for the Texans, who hired ex-49ers pass-game coordinator Bobby Slowik as OC, and others. Houston’s situation may not appeal to Garoppolo, but Slowik and Nick Caserio being in Houston make this connection too clear to ignore. The Buccaneers and Commanders are in win-now positions but are giving indications they do not want to spend much at QB. The Commanders were deep in talks for the then-49ers QB last year, however. Garoppolo will test those squads, along with the Falcons, who are entering Year 3 of the Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime. The Panthers’ acquisition of the No. 1 pick likely takes them out of the running, and Carolina not being in the mix could also affect how high the Garoppolo price goes.

Bottom line, there should be enough teams interested in staffing their 2023 QB1 spots that the best free agent option should do OK no matter what happens with Rodgers.

Best fits: Raiders, Texans, Commanders

5. Jamel Dean, CB. Age in Week 1: 26

The Buccaneers retained Carlton Davis last year, but their dire cap situation should force a Dean departure. Dean’s age/performance combination should make him this year’s top cornerback available. With corner a position of need for many teams, the former third-round pick stands to do very well. Dean has only been a full-time starter in one season, however, seeing his defensive snap share jump from 67% in 2021 to 90% last season.

Excelling in press coverage, Dean played a major role for the 2020 Super Bowl champion Bucs iteration and overtook fellow free agent Sean Murphy-Bunting last year. Dean did perform better in 2021 compared to 2022, allowing no touchdowns and limiting QBs to a collective 50.0 passer rating; those numbers shot up to four and 86.0 last season. Still, PFF rated Dean as last year’s 10th-best corner. J.C. Jackson did not break into the top five among corners upon hitting the market last year; Dean should not be expected to do so, either. But many teams will be interested.

The Patriots have paid up for a corner previously, in Stephon Gilmore (2017), but Jonathan Jones – forced to primarily play a boundary role in 2022 – wants to re-sign and will be far cheaper than Dean. The Falcons need help opposite AJ Terrell and trail only the Bears in cap space. Although a Terrell payment is coming, it can be tabled to 2024 due to the fifth-year option. The Dolphins are clearing cap space and now have a corner need, with Byron Jones no longer with the team after his missed season.

Best fits: Dolphins, Falcons, Patriots

6. Jessie Bates, S. Age in Week 1: 26

Bates stands to be one of this free agency crop’s safest bets, combining extensive experience – the final two years as a pillar for a championship threat – with a host of prime years remaining. Beginning his career at 21, the Wake Forest product has started 79 games and anchored the Bengals’ secondary for most of his tenure. The Bengals did not tag Bates for a second time, passing on a $15.5MM price. With the team planning to let Bates test the market, it looks like the sixth-year defender will leave Cincinnati.

The Bengals and Bates went through two offseasons of negotiations, ending in the 2022 tag. The Bengals have some big payments to make at higher-profile positions. Safety does not qualify as such, but Bates has been a cornerstone in Lou Anarumo’s defense and will be handsomely rewarded. Bates finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall safety in 2020 and, after a shakier 2021 in which he admitted his contract situation affected his play, Bates came through with impact plays in the postseason. He graded as a top-25 safety, via PFF, in 2022.

Safety is one of this year’s deeper positions in free agency. Of the top 10 safety contracts, however, only one went to a free agent (Marcus Williams in 2022). Bates should be expected to join the Ravens defender, who signed for $14MM per year. It will be interesting if he can climb into the top five at the position; Justin Simmons’ $15.25MM-AAV accord sits fifth. Bates should be expected to approach or eclipse that, though moving to the Derwin JamesMinkah Fitzpatrick tier will be more difficult. Still, after the Bengals offered Bates less than $17MM guaranteed last summer, he should depart for more guaranteed money.

The Browns are interested in Bates, who will cost more than John Johnson cost Cleveland two years ago (three years, $33.75MM). Clear of the record-setting Matt Ryan dead-money hit, the Falcons have cash to spend and a Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime entering Year 3. The Falcons need to make progress, and they do not have much in the way of talent or costs at safety. The team has not featured much here since the Keanu NealRicardo Allen tandem splintered. Bates would be a way to remedy that.

Team fits: Falcons, Browns, Raiders

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Cardinals Eyeing CB James Bradberry

Jonathan Gannon has been head coach in Arizona for just under two weeks now, and already, he is looking to bring along a former player from his 2022 Eagles defense, according to freelance journalist and former Cardinals staff writer Mike Jurecki. Jurecki reports that Eagles cornerback James Bradberry, currently set to hit free agency at the start of the new league year, is firmly on the Cardinals’ radar this offseason.

Bradberry has played one season with Gannon under a kind of “prove-it” contract with the Eagles. Three years ago, Bradberry earned a sizeable second contract after an impressive rookie campaign, signing a three-year, $43.5MM contract with the Giants in 2020. Bradberry put forth two strong seasons for Big Blue, earning his first career Pro Bowl selection during his first year in New York and recording seven interceptions and 35 passes defensed over the two-year stretch. Despite his continued high level of play, the Giants couldn’t stomach the cap pressure his contract put on the franchise. Bradberry restructured his contract twice in order to clear some cap space for the team, but after failing to find a trade partner, New York released him after the 2021 season.

Part of the trouble New York had in finding a trade partner for Bradberry was that it would likely require an extension on top of the trade. Many suitors were hesitant to commit to the number Bradberry would likely command and, as a result, Bradberry’s stock was at a new low after his release. Instead of locking himself into a new long-term deal that failed to reflect his actual worth, Bradberry decided to bet on himself, opting for a one-year opportunity with the Eagles to reset his market value. After yet another strong season that resulted in a second-team All-Pro selection, Bradberry’s bet paid off. He should be heading into free agency competing with Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters and Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones for the honor of top cornerback on the market.

Although it’s still early in the offseason, this isn’t the first report we’ve heard on Bradberry’s free agency. A little over a week ago, Bradberry made comments that he had two main desires when deciding on his next contract. Firstly, he wants to join a team with a good roster and a capability to win. Secondly, he wants “the number to be right.” He may not become the highest paid cornerback in the league making north of $20MM, but his new contract should certainly surpass the annual average value of his Giants contract of $14.5MM.

“Good roster” is obviously a subjective phrase and can be interpreted many ways. The Cardinals’ offense certainly houses talented individuals in Kyler Murray, James Conner, (maybe) DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, and Zach Ertz. There is a bit of talent on the offensive line, where some improvements could certainly be made. The retirement of J.J. Watt is certainly a blow to the talent-level of the defense, but players like Zach Allen, Budda Baker, and Marco Wilson make sure it’s not a unit devoid of talent. Arizona could certainly use some strong leadership at the cornerback position. Wilson and Byron Murphy led the group last year, with Antonio Hamilton, Christian Matthew, and Jace Whittaker all contributing off the bench. Bradberry would provide the Cardinals with an immediate No. 1 cornerback and a strong influence for Wilson.

Of course, as Bradberry has said, the number must be right. Currently, the Cardinals rank 11th in cap space in the NFL, according to OverTheCap.com, with $13.8MM of cap room heading into the offseason. With a little maneuvering, they should be able to create plenty of space in order to accommodate a new contract for Bradberry.

It’ll be up to the Cardinals to convince Bradberry they’ve got the right roster and the right offer to entice him to Arizona. It should certainly help that Bradberry is familiar with Gannon and knows he can perform in Gannon’s system. But, considering Bradberry wasn’t even prepared to offer a discount to stay in Philadelphia, it likely will still boil down to the main factors Bradberry has already made clear: talent and money.

Eagles CB James Bradberry Seeking “Right” Price On New Deal

Unfortunately for the veteran cornerback, James Bradberry‘s 2022 season will likely be defined by one play, during which he was called for a defensive holding penalty that set the Chiefs up with a new set of downs, allowing them to run down the clock and eventually beat the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. Despite that, Bradberry, who is set to hit free agency this offseason, had a phenomenal season that resulted in a second-team All-Pro selection and should be set up well in the open market, according to Zach Berman of The Athletic.

Bradberry has cashed in on free agency in the past. After an impressive rookie campaign in Carolina, Bradberry signed a three-year, $43.5MM deal with the Giants. He rewarded them initially with a Pro Bowl year, but after his second season with the team, New York couldn’t cope with his cap hit and cut him. Unable to find a new deal that fit his demands, Bradberry opted for a one-year opportunity with the Eagles to reset his market value. The bet on himself was a successful one, as Bradberry heads into free agency as one of the top available corners on the market.

Bradberry is reportedly open to returning to Philadelphia, where he enjoyed playing, but hasn’t discussed anything with the team and has joked that he “won’t play for cheap,” according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com. Berman provided a quote that elaborates a bit more on Bradberry’s thoughts, with Bradberry saying, “I would probably say I want to go to a team that has a good roster. And, of course, I want the number to be right. What that number is in my head, I haven’t figured it out. I got more time to think about it. But I know I want to be on a good roster.”

Perhaps already the best available cornerback in free agency, Bradberry will compete with Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters and Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones for the top contracts this offseason. All are around the same age, and while Jones and Bradberry had better seasons, Peters has much more accolades to his name.

Bradberry has made his desires known. He would love to stay with the Eagles (or any team capable of winning), but above that, Bradberry is absolutely looking to get paid what he’s worth. He may not fetch the $20MM per year that top cornerbacks like Denzel Ward, Jalen Ramsey, and Jaire Alexander are making, but he should surpass the $14.5MM annual average he made with the Giants en route to around $16-18MM per year.

Contract Details: Landry, Ingram, Bradberry

Here are some of the details on deals recently agreed to around the NFL:

  • Jarvis Landry, WR (Saints): One-year, $3MM. The contract, according to ESPN’s Field Yates, is completely guaranteed with a $1.88MM signing bonus and a base salary of $1.12MM. The deal will have a maximum value of $6MM due to some lofty incentives. One incentive is based on his receptions total, paying out $250,000 if he reaches 55 catches, $500,000 if he reaches 65, and $1MM if he reaches 75 receptions. The receptions bonus does not compound. If he reaches 75 receptions, he will only receive a $1MM bonus, not $1.75MM. Other incentives include $500,000 if he catches five touchdowns, $500,000 if he plays 48.5% of the team’s offensive snaps, $500,000 if he records 60 catches and the team makes the playoffs, and $500,000 if he reaches 607 receiving yards and the team makes the playoffs.
  • Melvin Ingram, OLB (Dolphins): One-year, $4MM. The deal, also reported by Yates, has a guaranteed amount of $3.32MM composed of a $1.65MM signing bonus and a base salary of $1.67MM. The remaining $680,000 is the potential season-total for Ingram’s per game active bonus of $40,000. Ingram can earn up to $750,000 of additional incentives based on playtime, sack total, and team defense. A Pro Bowl bonus of $250,000 pushes the maximum potential value of the contract to $5MM.
  • James Bradberry, CB (Eagles): One-year, $7.25MM. Bradberry’s deal, once again reported by Yates, is fully guaranteed with a signing bonus of $6.22MM and a base salary of $1.04MM. Bradberry can earn an additional $2.5MM due to incentives, giving his deal a maximum potential value of $9.75MM. The Eagles continue to divvy up the cap hit with voidable years, spreading Bradberry’s cap number through the 2026 season. The result sees his $7.25MM contract only do $2.28MM-worth of damage to the 2022 salary cap.

Eagles To Sign James Bradberry

James Bradberry is headed to Philly. On Wednesday, the free agent cornerback agreed to a one-year, $10MM with the Eagles, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

Bradberry, 28, was cut by the G-Men earlier this month. That was pretty much expected, given his would-be cap hit of $21.8MM+ and the other cost-cutting moves that were made by new GM Joe Schoen. The Giants tried to trade him, but ultimately couldn’t find a suitable deal.

I thought there would be more interest,” Schoen admitted earlier this spring. “There were some teams that showed interest pre-draft, and we had a couple different times [where] there [was] compensation in place and the contract never worked out.”

The former second-round pick was a Pro Bowler in 2020 and has only missed five games across his six-year career. In 2021, his second season with the Giants, he played in all 17 games, tallying 47 tackles, a career-high four interceptions and 17 passes defensed. Clearly, Bradberry still has a lot left in the tank. Now, he’ll get a chance to face his former club twice in 2022 and, perhaps, give them some second thoughts about releasing him.

For what it’s worth, the Giants explored bringing Bradberry back on a cheaper deal. The Texans, Chiefs, and Raiders were also connected to him, but the Eagles ultimately placed the winning bid. Now, Bradberry will team with Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox atop the Birds’ cornerback depth chart.