James Bradberry was one of the top free agents available this offseason, which was expected given the All-Pro season he had with the Philadelphia Eagles last year. In a weak free agent class for cornerbacks, Bradberry was set to break the bank.
The only thing on Bradberry’s mind was returning to Philadelphia, even if he had to take a hometown discount to make that happen.
“I had a lot of uncertainty going into free agency,” Bradberry said Wednesday. “I wasn’t sure if I would be back, but I definitely wanted to come back.”
Bradberry appeared to be on the outside looking in when it came to returning to the Eagles. Philadelphia made a push for C.J. Gardner-Johnson to return, but he dabbled his feet in free agency hoping for a better offer from the Eagles or another team. Gardner-Johnson never got that and the Eagles pivoted to Bradberry, who was more than ready to return to the organization where he had tremendous success last year.
Bradberry was arguably the best cover corner in the NFL last season. Of players who were targeted a minimum of 75 times, Bradberry allowed 44% of passes thrown his way to be caught — best in the league. The 4.7 yards per attempt allowed was also the best in the league, and the 44.5 passer rating by opposing quarterbacks targeting Bradberry was first in the NFL.
Even with Bradberry returning, there was no guarantee his cornerback partner was coming back. The Eagles toyed with the idea of releasing Darius Slay, but Gardner-Johnson waiting for a higher offer gave the front office an opportunity to work on a contract extension with Slay.
The best cornerback duo in the NFL will be back for 2023 and beyond.
“There was an opportunity for him to go on and play somewhere else,” Bradberry said. “He’s a good player, and he’s done enough in this league to make his own decisions based on whatever he has going on in his mind, but I’m glad he came back.”
The Eagles were always going to be where Bradberry wanted to go, especially since they had an advantage other teams didn’t have. It had nothing to do with roster construction, either.
“I’m a foodie. Love the cafe,” Bradberry said. “There’s always great food in the cafe.”