NY Jets should stay away from James Bradberry in free agency
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets will be looking to make a big splash or two in free agency this offseason, but one player they should steer clear of is James Bradberry.
The NY Jets are expected to be major players in free agency this year with multiple top names reportedly on their radar. But one prominent player the team should stay away from is cornerback James Bradberry.
The cornerback market is expected to be top-heavy this year with Bradberry and Byron Jones headlining the class. Given the age of both, the duo is expected to “reset the cornerback market” with record-breaking deals.
For Jones, that makes sense.
The former UConn star has developed into one of the very best cornerbacks in the NFL after making the full-time switch from safety. Despite a lack of interceptions, Jones consistently grades out well with Pro Football Focus and is widely regarded as a shutdown, No. 1 cornerback.
Given that he’s only 27-years-old, a hefty contract seems certain.
Bradberry, on the other hand, hasn’t exactly backed up his projected deal nearly as much as Jones. Despite this, the Jets reportedly remain very interested in the former Samford star.
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The 2016 second-round pick has spent his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers and has started 60 games during that time. Bradberry is just 26-years-old and has been Carolina’s No. 1 cornerback for the past couple of seasons.
As such, he’s expected to get paid handsomely in free agency. However, his play hasn’t exactly matched the hype he is receiving.
Amazingly, Bradberry has never received a PFF grade north of 70.0 and his 2019 grade of 60.9 was the worst of his career. To put things in perspective, Arthur Maulet received a 65.2 PFF grade in 2019.
Of course, PFF grades never tell the full story. But his other statistics hardly support his case.
As noted by Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor, Bradberry ranks in the 26th percentile when it comes to yards allowed per coverage snap in his career. On the contrary, Jones ranks in the 82nd percentile.
Take a look at the side-by-side analysis that was conducted below.
Byron Jones could be very much worth a huge deal.
James Bradberry? Probably not.@Michael_Nania with more numbers on the two potential #Jets free agent CB targets: https://t.co/qcHNStteMN pic.twitter.com/ExIRMeFsXV
— Jet X (@jetsxfactor) March 11, 2020
There’s a stark difference there — and yet they’ll likely command similar contracts. Bradberry is a fine player and still a starting-caliber cornerback, but paying him north of $15 million would be a massive blunder on the Jets’ part.
The Jets would be better off spending considerably less money on players like Trae Waynes and Prince Amukamara while receiving similar production. In fact, both Waynes and Amukamara scored better PFF grades in 2019 than Bradberry.
Of course, Jets fans will be quick to point to the major flop that was the Trumaine Johnson signing as a comparison. Spending huge money on a cornerback in free agency doesn’t necessarily mean the signing will fail.
But spending huge money on an average cornerback demanding a superstar deal is setting a franchise up for failure.
The Jets are desperately in need of cornerback help and they have been searching for a true No. 1 cornerback since the days of prime Darrelle Revis. But while James Bradberry is going to be paid like one, the numbers don’t support the hefty sum it will take to land him.
Spend money elsewhere or risk making a major mistake. That is the choice the Jets will be faced with in the coming weeks.