Vikings FA Fits: James Bradberry Would Be a Home-Run Swing at Corner

Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs with the ball against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry (24) during the first quarter of Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

James Bradberry has been an excellent corner for a long time.

Most recently, he has been an integral part of Philadelphia’s formidable defense. Opposite Darius Slay, Bradberry proved to be a fantastic part of the Eagles’ defensive effort. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to add a championship ring to his list of accomplishments, but it’s still notable that he helped propel his team into the final game.

With several marquee free agents set to hit the open market – C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Javon Hargrave – the Eagles may be unable to bring their veteran corner back for another year.

The Basic Details: James Bradberry

  • 29 years old. 6’1″, 212 pounds.
  • 2016 2nd-round selection.
  • 17 starts in 2022.
  • 44 tackles, 3 interceptions, 17 PDs, 1 touchdown, 2 TFLs.
  • 71.7 PFF grade (including playoffs), 27th among corners.

The Talk Around Town

The fine folks at PFF list Bradberry as the 15th-best free agent:

His 46.0% completion percentage allowed was the fourth-best mark among cornerbacks for the 2022 regular season, and his 19 forced incompletions ranked second. 

Bradberry is likely best as a No. 2 after years of proving himself as a reliable No. 1, but there should be a huge market for his services nonetheless, as he’s proven to be adaptable, reliable and available throughout his NFL career. This season marked his fourth consecutive campaign with 1,000-plus snaps.

Oct 2, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry (24) intercepts the ball in front of Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

CBS is more enthusiastic, listing Bradberry at 4th:

Opposing quarterbacks targeting Bradberry have completed just 42.5% of their passes and have a 43.3 passer rating this season. Bradberry and Darius Slay formed the top cornerback duo in the NFL this season, as the Eagles cornerback showed he’s still a No. 1 corner in the league. Teams will line up to pay him a premium deal this offseason. 

The NFL has him at 8th and ESPN puts him at 13th. Take a look at what the NFL’s Gregg Rosenthal has to say:

Available for too long after being released by the Giants last offseason, Bradberry signed a prove-it deal with the Eagles. He proved in Philadelphia that he’s a top-shelf corner when on his game. 

The Fit in Minnesota

Clearly, Minnesota has a need at corner. Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth Jr. are entering Year 2 in the NFL. In an ideal world, both will show considerable progress while they experience better health. Neither are a certainty, though.

Cameron Dantzler has long been an intriguing player, mostly due to his great physicality and length. On occasion, he has demonstrated some ability to make game-changing plays. At various other times, though, he has struggled to make seemingly basic plays. Don’t be shocked if teams call Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to see if he’s available in a trade since he has a single year left on his deal.

Duke Shelley Got His Revenge
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Duke Shelley (20) intercepts a pass intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool (10) during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Otherwise, the corners within the Vikings’ orbit are Duke Shelley and Patrick Peterson as well as more unproven players like Tay Gowan and Kalon Barnes.

If signed, Bradberry would likely be viewed as the CB1 for the next season or two. He held receivers to just 9.8 yards per reception and only allowed 2 TDs (though he did allow 8 TDs in 2021). For whatever it’s worth, we should note that he was operating within a truly formidable Eagles defense, one that led the NFL in sacks with 70 (a huge total).

Nov 3, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry (24) intercepts a pass by Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (not pictured) during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Even if we include the playoffs, the veteran corner only had 10 snaps in the slot. He had 1094 out wide and (somewhat surprisingly) 113 in the box. His overall PFF grade was a solid 71.7, but that’s a number that is getting dragged down by a dismal run defense grade: 40.4.

The more basic stats point to a playmaker in the secondary. He snagged 3 INTs in 2022, which was the fourth-straight year that he had at least 3 INTs. He has been in the NFL since 2016 and has never finished below 10 PDs in a single season. Last year, he had 17 PDs (for the second consecutive year; in 2020, he had 18 PDs).

Add it all together and you’ve got a player who finished as a second-team All Pro in 2022.

Oh, and he deserves major credit for taking responsibility for the Super Bowl hold. Like so many others, I’m of the opinion that it was a very misguided call. Nevertheless, major props to Bradberry for facing the media and taking responsibility.

The Vikings would benefit from having James Bradberry patrolling the secondary. His age provides some reason for pause, especially since the Vikings seem to desire more youth on defense. Even still, Bradberry would be an upgrade, someone who would help Brian Flores to get the Vikings defense back into respectability.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

The FA Fits series is neither predictive nor prescriptive. The articles don’t predict who Minnesota will sign and nor do they prescribe who Minnesota should sign. Rather, they’re merely an exploration of the fit between upcoming free agents and Minnesota’s roster. So far, we have considered LB David Long, EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, WR Mecole Hardman, CB Cameron Sutton, & RG Isaac Seumalo.