Why did James Bradberry’s inevitable exit from the Giants take so long?

James Bradberry treated

James Bradberry treated

Joe Schoen knew from the day he took over the Giants that he should get rid of James Bradberry. It wasn’t by choice. It was a math question. the giants were too deep in salary cap hell and their best cornerback was too expensive. His departure was inevitable.

Now, the time is seemingly imminent. So why, after four months of knowing this day would come, do the Giants seem so unprepared?

Perhaps the Giants couldn’t have done anything big to mitigate Bradberry’s loss of their high school — a loss that Schoen stated in radio interviews this week could happen at any time – but they probably should have found a way to do something about it. They didn’t even sign a cheap corner in free agency, knowing they would have to trade or release Bradberry, and they didn’t add any until the third round of the draft.

So their cornerback corps is basically what it was last season, minus the best player in this group, which is no small problem now that they’re leading an aggressive new defense that’s straining their secondary. because he lives off the blitz.

It also won’t help that they’re in a division that just added a receiver. A.J. Brown (Philadelphia) to a group that already includes Lamb CeeDee (dalas), DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia) and Terry McLaurin (Washington), plus rookies Jahan Dotson (first round, Washington) and Jalen Tolbert (third round, Philadelphia). It’s not exactly the wild AFC West, but this old field-and-pound division is happier than ever.

And what do the Giants have to stop the assault? Lots of question marks, especially around the corner. i love jackson was their big free agent signing a year ago and he was OK in what has been an injury-plagued first year. He’s the No. 1 corner now. His second and third will come from a mix of very young untested players like Aaron Robinson, Rodarius Williams or Darnay Holmes.

Knowing they would need to replace Bradberry, despite the mythical “contingency plans” Schoen launched to eventually keep him, the Giants thought about addressing that position in the NFL Draft. But they didn’t, not until their second third-round pick when 10 corners were already off the board. Part of it was circumstance – they would have taken Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner at n° 5 if the Jets didn’t take it at No. 4 and the Titans traded in the second round to take a corner one spot before the Giants were supposed to pick.

But they also traded twice in the second round and took a receiver 5-8 Wan’ Dale Robinson at 43 instead of a cornerback, and they still went around the corners until they took LSU’s 175-pounder Cor’Dale Flott 81st overall. And despite his hopes of pulling a financial rabbit out of his Giants cap, by then Schoen must have known his best corner was about to go.

The only question was how, and even that seems to be a mistake – or at least a miscalculation. Schoen rightly didn’t want to let a 28-year-old cornerback go for nothing, so he went out of his way to trade him. But he misinterpreted a commercial market that never really seemed to exist.

January 2, 2022;  Chicago, IL, USA;  New York Giants cornerback James Bradberry (24) reacts after intercepting a pass against the Chicago Bears in the second half at Soldier Field.  Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr - USA TODAY Sports

January 2, 2022; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Giants cornerback James Bradberry (24) reacts after intercepting a pass against the Chicago Bears in the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr – USA TODAY Sports

“I thought there would be more interest,” Schoen said on WFAN earlier this week. “Some teams showed interest before the draft, and we had compensation in place a few times – and the contract never worked out. We had good discussions with other teams and [his] the agent had good exchanges with the teams. Sometimes if you go to renegotiate a contract and you can’t come to an agreement, that’s it.”

It’s not a terrible strategy to be patient to see if a trade market develops, but multiple NFL sources have indicated he’s never likely to get more than a third-round pick in return. – and it seemed really unlikely without the Giants taking part. of Bradberry’s $13.4 million salary, which would have diminished the cap relief they got in return. Schoen seemed to think he was likely to move Bradberry in the draft, but he must have known needy teams would prefer younger, cheaper players.

Unsurprisingly, nine corners went in the first two rounds.

So what’s left for the Giants? They will receive $10.1 million in cap relief when Bradberry is cut, which is $2 million less than he would have been in March, before $2 million of his salary was guaranteed. They’ll need all of that and more for their 11-man draft class. They’ll likely sign a cheap veteran corner as well, although at this point nearly everyone who’s even capable has already signed elsewhere.

In fairness to Schoen, he did the right thing by allocating most of his few free agent dollars to repairing the offensive line. And while he theoretically could have traded in the first round of the draft and landed a cornerback once Gardner was gone, he ended up with an edge rusher. Kayvon Thibodeaux and tackle Evan Nealand it’s hard to argue with that.

But there is always this hole at the cornerback. Bradberry wasn’t great last season, but he was a Pro-Bowler the year before, and he’s still far more talented than anyone he leaves behind.

“It’s a starting corner in the league,” Schoen added, “it’s just where we are financially.”

Yeah, but that’s also where they’ve been since Schoen arrived, and really, it seemed inevitable that Bradberry had been made into a giant long before that. There was nothing Schoen could have done to change those circumstances. The best he could hope to do was to make the loss easier to take.

But he did not do it. Or he couldn’t. He had plenty of time to figure out what was going to happen next and couldn’t find an answer. And now the Giants still have a gaping hole in their secondary to fill.

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