Late free agent signing lands on list of most important Eagles


Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season.

25. Quez Watkins
24. Gardner Minshew
23. T.J. Edwards
22. Marcus Epps
21. Landon Dickerson
20. Jake Elliott
19. Brandon Graham
18. Jordan Davis
17. Kyzir White
16. Avonte Maddox 
15. Nakobe Dean
14. Fletcher Cox
13. James Bradberry

For the second straight year, the Eagles waited to add their CB2 and for the second straight year, things worked out. This year, it worked out even better.

That’s not to say that Steve Nelson was bad last year. He wasn’t. Nelson was solid in his one season with the Eagles. But James Bradberry is a pretty clear upgrade and his addition to Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox gives the Eagles one of the best cornerback trios in the NFL.

Bradberry, 28, made the Pro Bowl in his first year with the Giants in 2020. While he didn’t play up to that level in 2021, he was still pretty good. In 2021, he played in all 17 games, had a career-high 4 interceptions, 47 tackles and 17 passes defensed.

Having a legitimate No. 2 cornerback is important for this Eagles’ defense. Not only does it prevent teams from avoiding Slay on every play, but it also ensures that Maddox will continue to play in the slot, where he has been great.

After he signed with the Eagles, Bradberry pointed at scheme as a big reason why. During his career, Bradberry has excelled in zone coverage and the Eagles used a ton of zone during Jonathan Gannon’s first year as defensive coordinator.

“One of the things I love about him is the high football intelligence,” Gannon said. “He has a high football IQ and production, and he can cover. He can cover. That's what you want. You want people that can deny the football, and he can do that.”

The Giants held on to Bradberry through the initial waves of free agency and finally released him on May 9 after they couldn’t find any trade takers. The Giants released him for the cap room. Bradberry wasn’t thrilled about the timing of his release — after most teams had spent their free agency money — but understands the business side of things.

Bradberry had to settle for a one-year deal worth $7.25 million (another $2.5M available in incentives) with the Eagles. This is a chance for Bradberry to go to a team that will play to his strengths and put him on a path to another big contract after the season.

“I think, the sky’s the limit for me and Bradberry, man,” Slay said to SiriusXM this spring. “I’m here to help him. He’s here to help me. We both complement each other. We’re trying to really turn something into something great here.”

If Bradberry plays very well in 2022, it might be hard for the Eagles to hold on to him. But this is a team that wants to contend this season and Bradberry will definitely help.

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