Lions Suggested to Fill Biggest Need With Polarizing Super Bowl Player

James Bradberry

Getty James Bradberry celebrates a play during a 2022 game.

The Detroit Lions have decisions to make this offseason, and they have to find a way to respond to some of their overwhelming holes on both sides of the ball.

In terms of the holes, cornerback remains a spot of focus for a defense that rated 32nd in the NFL last season, and specifically, a passing defense which placed 30th in the league allowing 245 yards per-game through the air.

So what is the best way for the team to fix that specific need? By adding cornerbacks, according to some. Bleacher Report was the latest site to proclaim that position the biggest need for the Lions this offseason, while also offering some potential solutions.

While the site has so far chosen to set its sights on Jamel Dean for the team, Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry’s name came up for Kristopher Knox, who proposed that the team take a closer look at allocating some funds at the position with either player.

“The organization has $15.9 million in projected cap space and could target a top free agent like James Bradberry or Jamel Dean. Fans should also expect to see the Lions examine multiple cornerback prospects leading into the 2023 draft,” Knox wrote within the piece.

Unfortunately for Bradberry, he’s the headliner right now for infamous reasons. During the Super Bowl, a key holding penalty on the cornerback helped engineer a 38-35 Kansas City Chiefs win. On third-and-eight with 1:54 left in the fourth quarter, Bradberry was called for holding which allowed the Chiefs to milk the clock and kick the game winning field goal.

Bradberry would own up to the mistake afterward, admitting to the media that he did in fact hold JuJu Smith-Schuster on the play.

Nevertheless, in spite of that play, the cornerback is a solid player who has been around the block in the NFL and is on top of his game. He’s also a free agent who is coming off a solid three interception, one touchdown year.

Signing a veteran like Bradberry and pairing him with rookies from a deep draft class could be an interesting way the Lions choose to address the glaring need at the position this offseason.

Bradberry’s Career Stats & Highlights

A 2016 second-round pick out of Samford, Bradberry got his start in the NFL with the Carolina Panther. Immediately, he became a hit for the team’s defense, posting 59 tackles and two interceptions as a rookie.

Bradberry would play three more years with the Panthers, posting six interceptions and two forced fumbles from 2017 to 2019 before signing with the New York Giants in free agency on March 26, 2020. While in New York, Bradberry had a solid two years, posting seven total interceptions with the Giants prior to a release in May of 2022.

Bradberry rehabbed his career in Philadelphia at cornerback in 2022 after being cut by the Giants en-route to a second-team All-Pro season. He has collected a total of 18 career interceptions, and also was voted to a Pro Bowl for his play in 2020.

Spotrac projects Bradberry’s market value to be a three year contract worth $45.5 million. That shakes out to a $15.1 million average annual salary.

Cornerback Also Called Biggest Need by PFF

As the offseason begins to take shape, it’s clear the cornerback spot is going to be one to watch for the Lions moving forward, whether Bradberry is a pick for the team or someone else.

Much like Bleacher Report, the folks at Pro Football Focus, however, that is hardly the case. Recently, PFF and writer Sam Monson took a look at some of the biggest needs that every team is expected to have this offseason, and cornerback was the easy choice in Detroit.

As Monson explained, that is for more reasons than just one. The Lions were bad in 2022, but they’ve also struggled for a while at the position.

“The Lions cornerbacks combined to allow a 110.4 passer rating and 9.2 yards per attempt last season. And while the team’s young pass-rushers really stepped up as the season progressed, the coverage on the back end never rose to meet them at that level. The Lions have drafted several young corners in recent years, but they have yet to see a real return on that investment and need to keep swinging to continue this team’s positive growth,” he wrote within the piece.

Big swings will be needed, potentially both within the draft as well as free agency or even in the trade market. It could start in free agency, where the Lions will have the chance to snag a difference maker that could reshape the back end of their defense.

Right now, some see pursuing Bradberry as a good place to potentially start.

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