2019 Season Rewind
At the start of free agency, there were two top cornerbacks in this class, Byron Jones of the Cowboys and James Bradberry of the Panthers.
The Giants, who thanks to general manager Dave Gettleman had a familiarity with Bradberry, opted for Gettleman’s former second-round draft pick in 2016 in a move that adds a veteran presence to a relatively young group of defensive backs.
If anyone thinks that this is simply Gettleman having done a favor to one of his former players or trying to save face, it isn’t, as Bradberry is still a very solid perimeter cornerback.
He finished second among the Panthers cornerbacks last year in coverage with a 77.9 rating (former Giant Ross Cockrell led the Panthers cornerbacks with a 68.1 rating).
Bradberry also finished tied for the team lead among the cornerbacks (with Donte Jackson) in interceptions (3) but also held pass targets against him to just a 58.1 completion percentage, the second-best mark among Panthers corners and safeties with at least 30 targets against them.
In 60 games played, the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Bradberry has 279 tackles, eight interceptions, 47 pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and 3.0 sacks.
For those lamenting why the Giants didn’t put more of an effort into pursuing Jones, who received a five-year deal worth $82.5 million with $46 million guaranteed from Miami, Bradberry, who signed a three-year, $43.5 million contract with the Giants with $31.9 million guaranteed, has had better production.
According to data from Pro Football Reference comparing Bradberry and Jones, Bradberry has recorded eight interceptions in 60 games played, topping Jones, who has appeared in 79 games with just two interceptions. Bradberry has also averaged .3 more solo tackles and .1 sacks per game more than Jones.
Like so many other of the Giants free-agent signings this off-season, Bradberry has a connection within the organization, that being general manager Dave Gettleman, who drafted him in the second round in 2016 with Carolina.
Bradberry will likely fill two roles. First, he’ll move into one the starting perimeter cornerback roles, giving an otherwise young Giants defensive secondary some proven experience and leadership.
Bradberry’s skillset, and his ability to blitz, would appear to fit what defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has done in the past by sending his defensive backs in on a variety of exotic blitz packages.
Speaking of leadership, although head coach Joe Judge has said that he doesn’t expect the new veterans signed to hold the hands of the younger players, being a mentor is a role Bradberry said he’s embraced in the past with Jackson in Carolina.