Jets Should Look Crosstown for ‘Under-the-Radar’ Fix at Cornerback

James Bradberry

Getty New York Giants starting cornerback James Bradberry on October 4, 2020.

The New York Jets were recently ranked second in the NFL in offseason capital in 2022, meaning Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh have a ton of assets to work with as they attempt to get this franchise turned around.

As fans and analysts speculate over free agency and the draft, one avenue of improvement that’s often overlooked is the potential for trades. The Jets have the draft capital and the available cap to take on veteran contracts that other GMs may be looking to rid themselves of.

That’s where Douglas comes in — the NYJ master of trades — and he doesn’t have to look far to bring in an experienced cornerback that can headline a young group that feels like it’s one piece away.

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Bradberry Could Be Available

According to a recent article from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the crosstown rival New York Giants may be open for business under new management in Joe Schoen.

The first-year GM has been tasked with cleaning up a financial mess left by Dave Gettleman. Big Blue currently has the sixth-worst cap situation in the NFL and Schoen will most likely be looking to ditch some of their larger contracts.

Fowler suggested one of those as an “under-the-radar trade candidate” — starting CB James Bradberry.

The NFL insider wrote: “Bradberry has battled in his two years in New York, producing four interceptions during a tough 2021 season for the whole franchise. He’s a solid starting option for several defenses. But at $13.4 million in 2022 salary with a $21.8 million cap hit, Bradberry is an easy target if the Giants need cap relief.”

I know what you’re thinking — the Giants weren’t good last year either, why trade for their players? The defense wasn’t the problem for NYG. In fact, new head coach Brian Daboll has already stated that he would like to retain defensive coordinator Patrick Graham — so long as the DC doesn’t get offered a head coaching role himself.

Schoen would take a dead cap hit of $9.727 million and change if he moves the corner via trade, but he’d also save a little over $12.136 million in the process. In year one of a rebuild, that’s a deal worth making.

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Jets Should Make the Call

If Bradberry is available as Fowler suggests, Douglas should pick up the phone immediately. This cornerback unit is developing nicely but it’s still one piece away.

Many figure that the Jets might try and fill that role with a premium draft pick but that doesn’t fit with the front office’s philosophy. Douglas and Saleh believe in building through the trenches, and cornerback isn’t a position that requires a first or second rounder. That would also feed into the inexperience problem, instead of solving it.

If the Giants split the cost, however, getting a proven veteran on a contract year could be the perfect fix.

The 6-foot-1 Bradberry is a physical DB that would fit well in Saleh’s system. He had a tremendous campaign in 2020 with a 79.8 grade from Pro Football Focus (79.9 in coverage). The Giants CB allowed a 56.4% catch rate that season.

Although his numbers took a slight dip in 2021 (65.2% catch rate, 65.0 coverage grade), they’re still a massive improvement on Brandin Echols for the second starting role across from Bryce Hall.

Bradberry has also been a pillar of health during his six-year career, missing just five games total, and only two since 2017. With the G-Men, he was sidelined once in two seasons.

His blend of consistency and savvy could help this young Jets secondary take the next step in becoming a top-15 unit. Plus, he’s off the books at the end of 2022 unless you elect to extend him. No harm, no foul.

If everything works out, Bradberry won’t even have to change his address.

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