Pro Bowl Cornerback Shut Down Trade to Jets, Says Insider

Robert Saleh

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh on September 26, 2021.

If there was one inaccurate rumor of the offseason, it was that the New York Jets coaching staff didn’t value the cornerback position.

Not only has head coach Robert Saleh refuted those claims with words, but the front office has backed him up with action. First, the Jets signed D.J. Reed Jr. to become the franchise’s number one corner. Then, they doubled down by drafting Sauce Gardner at No. 4 overall.

When you factor in starting nickel Michael Carter II, a promising prospect like Bryce Hall is now the fourth CB on the depth chart after the moves and 2021 rookie starter Brandin Echols has dropped to fifth in the ranks. That’s some quality depth right there.

Having said all that, a team insider recently revealed that the Jets were in on another veteran before the NFL draft, and they would have traded for him if he had not shut down the deal.

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Jets Attempted to Trade for James Bradberry

The crosstown rival New York Giants had been shopping 2020 Pro Bowler James Bradberry all spring, but his contract created a general hesitation from suitors. In the end, first-year general manager Joe Schoen chose to release the cornerback in order to free up enough cap space to sign their two first-round picks.

NYG beat reporter Dan Duggan noted that “this wouldn’t have [been] possible without the James Bradberry release” — which shows just how desperate Big Blue was.

After Bradberry agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Eagles on May 18, Duggan revealed another juicy tidbit of information. “So obviously Bradberry made the right call not facilitating trades to the [Houston] Texans or Jets that would have locked him in for two years in the $8M per year range,” he voiced.

It’s important to understand what Duggan meant by this tweet, which he illustrated perfectly in an April 25 article with The Athletic. Although Bradberry did not have a no-trade clause in his contract, interested parties were hoping to lower his cap hit with an extension. According to Duggan, the former Pro Bowler was not interested in “facilitating” those demands, in effect nixing both trade proposals from the Texans and Jets.

That still didn’t explain Gang Green’s involvement, which must have been very hush-hush considering the offer was an all-New York affair. An NYJ supporter quickly picked up on the name drop and asked for more information, which led to the confirmation from Duggan.

He replied: “Yes, heard the Jets were the other team that tried to work something out with Bradberry. My sense is they were just trying to get him for nothing since they knew the Giants were just looking to dump the contract. Texans talks were more serious.”

In other words, the opportunistic Joe Douglas was on the prowl once again and even though that shouldn’t surprise anyone, the lack of press surrounding this rumor should. This story was covered by no one! — until now.

It took some time but Duggan finally spilled on the details weeks — or potentially months — after the trade proposal fell through. Don’t let anyone tell you that Douglas doesn’t run a tight ship in New York.

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Impactful Trade Might Have Altered Entire Offseason

The one part that’s left out is the timing. Duggan does not state when this trade proposal occurred, but it’s safe to assume that it happened before the draft.

With Reed and Gardner already on the roster in May, the Jets wouldn’t have been interested in paying $8 million for Bradberry. Whether this took place before or after the Reed signing is another question altogether.

Would a Bradberry trade have negated a Reed signing, or a Gardner draft pick? Or both?

Considering Reed is being touted as a potential Pro Bowler that is on the rise and some think Gardner could be the NFL’s next premier cornerback, the consensus is that the Jets made out pretty well at the position this spring.

There was a point in the offseason where it felt like a Bradberry trade might make sense, but that moment came and went. Now, it almost feels as if the Jets were lucky that the soon-to-be 29-year-old turned them down.

Reed and Gardner are the future, and both fit the franchise’s championship timeline.

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