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PHILADELPHIA – Timing could have been better for new Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry.
When the New York Giants needed to lose wages, they went into the low season to replace Bradberry, who had been one of the team’s most productive players over the past two seasons with seven interceptions and 25 pass breakups. There was interest in the Pro Bowl defensive back, but talks with several teams never crossed the finish line. So the fighters held on to him through free action and the draft before finally releasing him on May 9th. The delay may have cost Bradberry millions where the market was largely wiped out when he hit it off.
“First of all, I understand that it’s a business, so I have to first put my business ceiling on and understand that I’m an asset,” he said. “I understand that they want something for me. It was part of the game. Personally, I did not necessarily like it. But it’s a business in the end, and I understand that.”
The 28-year-old Bradberry said he was “very anxious” over the past many months in the midst of all the uncertainty.
“But I just knew to be patient and wait, things would shake out and I would be in the right place.”
After all that waiting, Bradberry only had to drive about 100 miles down the turning area to find his new home. Rival Eagles needed a starting corner against Darius Slay, following the departure of Steven Nelson, and immediately signed Bradberry to a one-year deal worth up to $ 10 million a few days after his release.
“A very versatile player. Smart, tough, physical. Can get the ball, can cover. Every time you have that kind of skill with your outside corners, it’s a good asset to have,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. “That’s why you’re looking for complete players: Can they play out? Can they push? Can they play with sight? Can they play with male eyes? He does it all. With that type of player, it gives you flexibility with some of the covers you can play. “
Opposing quarterbacks completed a league-high 69.4% of their throws against the Eagles last season, as Gannon often opted for soft coverage at the back end. The addition of Bradberry ensures that the defensive backs will challenge more. He finished fourth in the NFL last season in pass-break with 17 and is one of three players with at least 70 pass-breaks in the past five seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information, along with New Orleans Saints’ Marshon Lattimore and his new teammate, Slay.
“I’ve seen him since I’ve been in the league and I admire his game a lot,” Bradberry said of Slay.
“Potential will only bring you that far, so I do not really want to talk about potential. I just know that we are individually pretty good, so the goal is to be good together.”
On the question of what attracted him to Philly, Bradberry mentioned the scheme, which is expected to offer a mix of human and zone coverage; the roster; and the noisy fans. He did not take the lure when asked if he particularly looked forward to playing the Giants twice this season, but instead stressed the importance of every game in the pursuit of the playoffs.
The Eagles believe the hunt has become easier with the addition of Bradberry.
“Every time we can add a player like that, it will boost any team,” said safety Marcus Epps. “He’s been proving to be a really good player in this league for a while.”