Wednesday afternoon will mark the arrival of the new league year. All 32 franchises must reach compliance in relation to the NFL salary cap and several teams are scrambling to honor that agreement. The New York Giants are a club that remains above the salary cap, according to Spotrac, and general manager Joe Schoen must get creative ahead of Wednesday’s mid-day deadline. According to multiple reports, superstar cornerback James Bradberry could be available via trade as the Giants continue to create financial breathing room. Bradberry is set to earn a base salary of $13.4 million while carrying a monstrous cap hit of $21.8 million. Bradberry is set to receive $2 million in guarantees on Wednesday afternoon, which could spurn some trade activity prior to that perceived deadline. Bradberry could also be released from his contract should Schoen and the Giants fail to identify a willing partner.
The 28-year-old Bradberry remains a feisty and physical starting-caliber cornerback in coverage. He enjoyed another prosperous campaign by recording a career-high four interceptions while spearheading the Giants’ defense. Should Bradberry be traded or reach the open market, a plethora of clubs should have an interest in securing his services.
We’ve identified three potential fits for Bradberry.
Starting cornerback Levi Wallace signed a reasonable two-year contract worth $8 million with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday. Wallace’s departure leaves a sizable hole in Buffalo’s secondary, specifically at the CB2 position.
Shutdown cover-man Tre’Davious White remains in Buffalo and will continue to spearhead this group despite suffering a season-ending torn ACL injury in late November. White should heal in time to lock down one side of the field next season, but who will start opposite White is now a legitimate question mark. The Bills currently lack depth at the position, as players such as Siran Neal would be miscast in a starring role.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane will almost certainly make a notable move at the cornerback position and he’s awfully familiar with Bradberry. Beane served as the assistant general manager with the Carolina Panthers the year (2016) they drafted Bradberry in the second round. Furthermore, Bills head coach Sean McDermott spent Bradberry’s rookie campaign as his defensive coordinator before accepting an opportunity to lead the Bills franchise.
The connections between the current Bills staff and the one that was in place in Carolina when Bradberry made his professional debut run deep. It wouldn’t qualify as a shock if the Bills acquired Bradberry given their newfound need at the position and familiarity with the defender.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The Patriots allowed superstar cornerback J.C. Jackson to walk out the door as the former undrafted free agent signed an extremely lucrative, multi-year contract with the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday afternoon. The Patriots once possessed Jackson and Stephon Gilmore in their defensive backfield, and they ultimately allowed both elite cover-men to get away. As things stand, the likes of Jalen Mills, Myles Bryant, Terrance Mitchell, and Shaun Wade largely make up the Patriots’ cornerback room. Improvements and upgrades are undeniably necessary for a franchise that must contend against Josh Allen and the high-flying Buffalo Bills twice a year. Bradberry would immediately become their most accomplished cornerback.
The Patriots have been clearing cap space in recent days. They allowed Ted Karras to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals and they traded away starting guard Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots are preparing for something, and that could involve acquiring Bradberry.
Former Giants head coach Joe Judge served as Bradberry’s head coach in East Rutherford for the previous two campaigns. Judge now finds himself back in New England as an offensive assistant and could be pushing Bill Belichick to consider signing or trading for Bradberry. Few men know Bradberry better than Judge.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
The AFC West is a literal arms race. Denver’s blockbuster acquisition of franchise quarterback Russell Wilson has flipped the division (and league) firmly on its head. The Kansas City Chiefs remain annual Super Bowl contenders thanks to the presences of Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. The Los Angeles Chargers have potentially been the most aggressive franchise in the National Football League over the previous week. The Chargers acquired Khalil Mack in a trade with the Chicago Bears before signing lockdown corner Jackson just days later. The signings of Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson should also help improve a defensive line that struggled a year ago.
And then there’s the Raiders, who have thus far done little to keep up with the three contending teams in their own division. Employing quality cornerbacks will be a must for a Raiders defense that must defend the pass against Mahomes, Wilson, and Justin Herbert in 2022.
Casey Hayward Jr. is an unrestricted free agent and may sign elsewhere now that a new regime has control over the Raiders. The swing-and-miss draft selection of the now-released Damon Arnette means the Raiders may have to overcompensate at the position this offseason.
New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham spent the previous two campaigns as Bradberry’s defensive coordinator with the Giants while also serving as the assistant head coach. Vegas needs to do something at cornerback, and Graham has enjoyed coaching Bradberry in the past.
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