Sometimes we are lucky enough to transmit news at the same time as we offer analysis. The New York Giants released cornerback James Bradberry yesterday in a cost-cutting decision. The former Pro Bowl corner signed a three-year, $45 million deal with the Giants ahead of the 2020 season. He started 31 games with the team over two seasons where he had seven interceptions, 81 tackles in solo and defended 35 passes.
Supposedly, the Giants tried to trade Bradberry and that’s where the Texans come in. Yesterday it was reported that the Texans and Giants reached a tentative deal for a late pick before the draft, but could not agree on the financial terms of the transaction. The numbers above seem scintillating, so the question is whether Bradberry would have been worth it. Of course, now they can bid on anything they want and it remains to be seen what it’s actually worth.
What did the Giants know?
It’s hard to say exactly how to categorize these things, but many of those inside rely on sites like Pro Football Focus. The PFF ratings for Bradberry relay something different than the numbers above suggest. According to PFF, Bradberry earned an overall rating of 62.8. That tied him for 58th out of 116 qualifying turns. In his particular situation, that rating rises to 65.0 when you just consider hedging.
The downside is that he scored a measly 47.6 in the running game. Of course, any fan and executive has to decide if these numbers mean anything to them. If you take them at face value, you get the impression that Bradberry was an average corner last season. Calling an average player always seems like an insult, but it really isn’t. There are as many corners below it as there are above it.
If someone were to sign Bradberry, what exactly would they get? Well, he’s been in the league for six seasons and exactly half of his seasons have seen him well over that 62.8 mark, including a solid 79.8 in 2020 when he was fully deserving of a Pro selection. Bowl. However, these numbers are meaningless without a frame of reference.
Where are the other Texans?
The Texans recently signed Steven Nelson to a two-year, $10 million deal. His 63.6 PFF rating ranked 52nd among the 116 qualifying turns. In other words, it apparently performed a bit better even though its coverage rating is lower than Bradberry at 61.4 compared to Bradberry’s 65.0.
The cornerback room looks to be in pretty good shape after Derek Stingley Jr. picked third overall. Nick Caserio is always very careful to manage expectations and that is certainly the case with rookies. He won’t be given a position, so if the Texans add another solid, but unspectacular corner, they could at least handle both spots with someone reasonable.
Desmond King (re-signed) and Terrance Mitchell were the other corners to take away shots last year. King is really a slot corner that was masquerading as an outside corner because they didn’t have anyone else. He played around 80% of his shots outdoors and produced an overall rating of 53.0 and a cover rating of 47.7. Both ratings were the lowest of his career.
This ranked him 101st out of 116 corners while Mitchell placed 103rd with an overall rating of 52.4. It should be noted that former Texan Vernon Hargreaves arrived with a solid 49.4 mark in Cincinnati. so the cornerback room has been pretty shaky over the past few seasons. However, there are reasons for optimism. Tavierre Thomas came out of nowhere to place 9th with an overall rating of 77.6 and a cover rating of 76.1 playing mostly indoors.
So is Bradberry worth it?
As always, these things depend on price. Just 21 corners should net ten million or more per season in 2022. I don’t think Bradberry is one of those guys in terms of performance, but he could rank just below. The general idea is to keep King inside with Thomas where he has ranked well in the past. That would give you two good split corners and three average to above average outside corners if you count Stingley Jr.
Given the difference in their run defense ratings, you’d probably want Nelson to be there against teams like the Colts and Titans that rely on a strong rushing offense. Bradberry would probably fare better against teams that throw the ball more. Since he’s probably the majority of teams in the NFL today, it looks like he should have a spot on the team somewhere if they can come to a deal.
His forward salary put him in the top ten and the Giants realized he wasn’t in the top ten. So they cut it. That’s how the NFL is supposed to work. The rest of the league is adapting to its new assessment and evolving accordingly. If you sign Bradberry, you probably won’t get a Pro Bowl corner, but you will get a solid one and no NFL team should be turning down solid corners.