The New York Giants found a much-needed elite cornerback in James Bradberry. Here’s why Dave Gettleman made the right call in signing him.
Dave Gettleman executed at least one big splash in each of his first two offseasons as the New York Giants general manager. He made Nate Solder the highest-paid offensive tackle in the league — at the time — in 2018. He additionally signed wideout Golden Tate to a four-year deal last offseason.
And this year, the big splash is cornerback James Bradberry.
On Monday, the Giants and Bradberry agreed to a three-year contract worth $45 million ($32 million guaranteed). With the deal, the 26-year old corner from Samford University becomes the teams’ third-highest-paid player behind only Leonard Williams and Solder, per Over the Cap.
Many Giants fans are skeptical of the move after the mostly-failed Janoris Jenkins signing of 2016. Nonetheless, Bradberry’s numbers suggest Gettleman made the right decision.
In four seasons with the Panthers, Bradberry recorded eight interceptions, 47 passes defended, and seven tackles for a loss.
Last season, the corner put together arguably the best year of his young career. Bradberry ultimately racked up three interceptions, 12 passes defended, 65 combined tackles, and one sack.
While these general numbers are impressive, the advanced statistics truly prove the Giants made a wise investment.
In the NFC South, Bradberry shadowed Bucs star Mike Evans, Saints standout Michael Thomas, and future Hall of Famer Julio Jones of the Falcons twice a year.
This past season, he held Evans to a combined 143 yards (61 yards in their Week 2 matchup), Thomas to a combined 51 yards with a touchdown (zero catches in Week 17), and Jones to a combined 94 yards (30 yards and two catches in a Week 11 matchup).
In addition, Bradberry shadowed other star receivers like DeAndre Hopkins and rookie D.K. Metcalf.
Bradberry held Hopkins to three catches and 27 yards. Metcalf, on the other hand, caught just one ball for 17 yards.
In total, Bradberry held the four Pro Bowlers and Rookie of the Year candidate to just 25 receptions, 332 yards, and one score in eight games. This ranks among the NFL’s elite.
When digging even deeper, the numbers continue to look better and better for the new Giants corner.
Last season, Bradberry held receivers to just 0.92 yards of separation, which ranked 18th in the league. His 10.4 yards allowed per reception ranked 11th while his 6.6 yards allowed per target ranked 16th. Bradberry’s one touchdown allowed additionally tied for sixth.
While the numbers for Bradberry are intriguing, his track record as a person is even more impressive.
In an interview with Tom Rock of Newsday, Samford head coach Chris Hatcher gave glowing reviews of his former cornerback.
Hatcher began by complementing Bradberry’s 6-foot-1, 212-pound frame.
“With James’ height and his size and his overall athletic ability and natural instinct, he’s a dream of what people are looking for to play corner,” Hatcher said. “He looks like a linebacker or a safety.”
Hatcher additionally praised Bradberry on his work ethic.
“[He] just showed up and did his work every day and did it very well.”
This trait is exactly what the Giants need in their cornerback room. With Jenkins gone, Big Blue will likely go with a group that includes Bradberry and a pair of second-year corners in Deandre Baker and Corey Ballentine.
The “show up and work” attitude is what the Giants want from their young defensive backs. Especially Baker, who was a first-round draft pick in 2019.
As a rookie, Baker struggled mightily. A report from ESPN’s Jordan Raanan back in November stated that the former Georgia Bulldog was actually called out for “unacceptable” play in front of his teammates.
It has been an “up and down” rookie season for DeAndre Baker, who was called out last week in front of team for his effort on this “unacceptable” play. But the #Giants insist there have been enough positives for the first-round pick to self-correct. https://t.co/wR21tB2Lx1 pic.twitter.com/D9cIMp1bNY
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) November 22, 2019
With Bradberry providing that veteran presence, Baker will have a positive mentor as opposed to Jenkins, who was the subject of several controversies throughout the 2019 campaign.
While the corner will still need to prove he can duplicate the success he had in a smaller market like Carolina, he possesses the right work ethic and numbers to suggest that Gettleman made a wise investment.