A Philadelphia Eagles star could land with a hated division rival.
One of the Eagles’ best defensive players, cornerback James Bradberry, will hit free agency. Following an abrupt release from the New York Giants after the 2022 NFL draft, Bradberry signed with the Eagles and re-established himself as one of the league’s best corners.
According to a prediction from Mark Schofield of SB Nation, the 29-year-old will sign with another division rival — the Dallas Cowboys. Schofield attributes the Cowboys’ need for a No. 2 cornerback opposite of Trevon Diggs as the reason they’ll poach the Eagles star.
“C.J. Gardner-Johnson might not be the only member of the Eagles 2022 secondary on his way out of Philadelphia,” says Schofield. “Darius Slay has been given permission to explore a trade, and James Bradberry is set to hit free agency as well. Heading into the offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have needs at wide receiver, and cornerback. They would be wise to add Bradberry and put him across from Trevon Diggs, giving the Cowboys a very solid 1-2 punch in the secondary.”
Why the Eagles Could Lose James Bradberry
It’s no secret that Bradberry will enter free agency as one of the most highly coveted cornerbacks. As ranked by The Athletic’s staff, the veteran cornerback is considered the sixth-best free agent available. According to Spotrac, Bradberry’s market value is $15.1 million per year across three seasons for a total of $45.2 million. That would make him the 10th-highest paid cornerback in the league.
The question is, can the Eagles afford him? Philadelphia has a little under $9 million in available cap space, ranking 24th in the league. That’s not even mentioning how the Eagles have other big-name free agents such as Javon Hargrave, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Miles Sanders.
“Bradberry cashed in on a one-year, prove-it deal with the Eagles to provide lockdown defense opposite Darius Slay,” says The Athletic’s Bo Wulf. “As with his defensive backfield mate, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, the question is less about whether the Eagles want him back and more about whether they can afford him.”
How the Cowboys Can Sign James Bradberry
The Cowboys aren’t exactly rolling in money either with pending big-name free agents to deal with. Dallas has $12 million in available cap space, ranking 21st in the league. They also have contract situations to deal with when it comes to free agent tight end Dalton Schultz along with the restructuring of contracts pertaining to running back Ezekiel Elliott and offensive tackle Tyron Smith.
However, they could clear up more cap space by restructuring or simply cutting the contracts of Elliott ($16.7 million cap hit in 2023) and Smith ($17.6 million cap hit in 2023). Those hypothetical moves would clear the way for the signing of Bradberry.
Outside of Diggs, Dallas simply lacks an experienced viable cornerback. It was a large reason why they signed veteran free agent cornerbacks at the end of the season, such as Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander. According to Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys’ top-ranked cornerback outside of Diggs was DaRon Bland (66.0 defensive grade). By comparison, Bradberry posted a 74.1 defensive grade and a robust coverage grade of 80.2
It may be an Eagles fans’ worst nightmare, but the idea of Bradberry signing with the hated Cowboys is a possibility if he doesn’t return to Philadelphia.