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After 'anxious' offseason, James Bradberry finds his fit with Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles signed former Giants cornerback James Bradberry to upgrade a secondary that struggled in 2021. AP Photo/Terrance Williams

PHILADELPHIA -- The timing could have been better for new Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry.

Needing to shed salary, the New York Giants entered the offseason looking to trade Bradberry, who had been one of the team's most productive players over the past two seasons with seven interceptions and 25 pass breakups. There was interest in the Pro Bowl defensive back, but talks with multiple teams never crossed the finish line. So the Giants held onto him through free agency and the draft before finally releasing him on May 9. The delay may have cost Bradberry millions, with the market largely dried up by the time he hit it.

"First of all, I understand that it's a business, so I have to put my business cap on first and understand that I'm an asset," he said. "I understand they want something for me. That was part of the game. Personally, I didn't necessarily like it. But it's a business at the end of the day and I understand that."

The 28-year-old Bradberry said he was "very anxious" over the past several months amid all the uncertainty.

"But I knew just being patient and waiting, things were going to shake out and I was going to be in the right place."

After all that waiting, Bradberry had to drive only about 100 miles down the turnpike to find his new home. The rival Eagles were in need of a starting corner opposite Darius Slay, following the departure of Steven Nelson, and promptly signed Bradberry to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million just days after his release.

"A very versatile player. Smart, tough, physical. Can get the ball, can cover. Anytime you have that type of skill set with your outside corners, it's a good asset to have," said Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. "That's why you look for complete players: Can they play off? Can they press? Can they play with vision? Can they play with man eyes? He does all of that. With that type of player, it gives you flexibility with some of the coverages you can play."

Opposing quarterbacks completed a league-high 69.4% of their throws against the Eagles last season, as Gannon often opted for soft coverage in the back end. The addition of Bradberry assures the defensive backs will challenge more. He ranked fourth in the NFL last season in pass breakups with 17 and is one of three players with at least 70 pass breakups in the past five seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information, along with the New Orleans Saints' Marshon Lattimore and his new teammate, Slay.

"I've been watching him since I've been in the league, and I admire his game a lot," Bradberry said of Slay.

"Potential will only get you so far, so I don't really want to speak on potential. I just know individually we're pretty good, so the goal is to be great together."

Asked what drew him to Philly, Bradberry mentioned the scheme, which is expected to feature a blend of man and zone coverage; the roster; and the rowdy fans. He did not take the bait when asked whether he was especially looking forward to playing the Giants twice this season, instead emphasizing the importance of every game in pursuit of the playoffs.

The Eagles believe that pursuit has been made easier with the addition of Bradberry.

"Anytime we can add a player like that, it’ll boost any team," safety Marcus Epps said. "He’s been proving he’s a really good player in this league for a while.”