The New York Giants made a splash signing in free agency this offseason. New York inked a deal with former Carolina Panther cornerback James Bradberry. Bradberry was one of the top cornerbacks on the market and the Giants paid him like it. Bradberry and the Giants came to terms on a three-year contract worth $43.5 million ($14.5 million on average annually).
Cornerback was certainly a weakness for the Giants entering this offseason. New York’s pass defense struggled throughout the 2019 season and the team cut long-time primary cornerback Janoris Jenkins. This left the Giants with a huge hole on the outside. Entering 2020, the Giants have filled that hole with the addition of James Bradberry. However, a new hole has opened up on the opposite side of the field.
The Giants signed Bradberry, hoping he would be the team’s primary cornerback with DeAndre Baker playing the second cornerback position. Baker is now facing serious legal charges and has been placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. Baker will not be ready for the start of the NFL season and his backup, Sam Beal, has opted out of this season. The Giants are going to have a position battle at cornerback two during training camp, but James Bradberry’s performance at the primary cornerback position will hold the team together.
What Makes James Bradberry So Essential?
Newly-signed cornerback James Bradberry is the only real veteran presence in the Giants’ secondary. Darnay Holmes, Julian Love, and Xavier McKinney are all second and first-year players that will play significant roles in the team’s pass defense. Having a reliable cover-man like Bradberry will help stabilize this group of young and growing players.
At twenty-seven years old, James Bradberry is still a relatively young player. But he is still older than the rest of the players in the secondary. Jabrill Peppers will turn twenty-five this season, making him one of the older players on the Giants’ youthful defense.
With age comes experience. James has spent four years in the NFL, more specifically with the Panthers in the NFC South. The NFC South has the hardest competition at the wide receiver position out of any division in the NFL. Twice a year, Bradberry had to line up against star receivers like Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley. Here is how he fared in these tough matchups:
James Bradberry shadows in 2019 pic.twitter.com/BJeoY1ayti
— Jeff Ratcliffe (@JeffRatcliffe) March 16, 2020
For the most part, Bradberry shut down all of these star wide receivers he faced off against in 2019. The Giants are implementing a brand new man-coverage-heavy defensive scheme under Patrick Graham in 2020. Bradberry thrives in press-man coverage and will be able to shadow opposing team’s top receivers with the Giants. As long as Bradberry does his job and eliminates the offenses’ top threats, the young bucks in the Giants’ secondary have the talent to put together a solid season.