james bradberry giants panthers
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Giants cornerback James Bradberry is set to face his former team, the Carolina Panthers, this Sunday afternoon.

It wasn’t that long ago when James Bradberry was playing the cornerback position in Charlotte. The former second-round draft pick out of Samford was with the Panthers from 2016-19.

But this is the NFL — turnover occurs and free-agent players find new homes.

Bradberry dealt with this process back in 2020 when he didn’t return to Carolina and instead joined the Giants via a three-year, $43.5 million deal.

Was James affected by the Panthers’ lack of desire for him during that 2020 free agency period?

“No, not really, because it’s a business at the end of the day and I understood what was going on towards the end of my career there,” Bradberry told the media Thursday, per Giants.com. “Coach [Ron] Rivera got fired, they had a new coaching staff coming in. Honestly, they had new personnel upstairs as well with general managers, new contract guys coming in. I kind of got a feel for it, I knew my time there wasn’t going to be long.

This upcoming matchup between Bradberry’s current and former teams isn’t exactly a homecoming — the game will take place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

It won’t have the feeling that a return to Charlotte would. Nonetheless, this Sunday afternoon’s event will still mean something to the sixth-year corner.

“Of course, it’s special because that’s where I started,” Bradberry said to the media. “I know some guys still on that defense and some guys on that offense, so I think it’s going to be special to see some of my old teammates. As far as me having animosity or anything towards them, they weren’t there when I was there, so I can’t really blame them for not keeping me.

Bradberry showed in 2020 that Carolina may have made a mistake not retaining him. The veteran went out and played his best football to date, earning his inaugural Pro Bowl nod with Big Blue.

But thus far in 2021, Bradberry is failing to reach that same production level. Through six games, he’s allowed opposing quarterbacks to combine for a 72.5% completion rate and 105.0 passer rating when targeting him.

His on-field issues have been a notable component of the Giants’ overall defensive struggles. The unit has allowed 401.3 total yards per game (27th in the NFL) and 29.5 points per game (tied for 29th) up to this point.

The hope is Bradberry turns it all around; what better time for him to do it than Sunday against his former team?

Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY

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