The Carolina Panthers have a big decision to make on pending free agent cornerback James Bradberry IV (26). David Tepper and Marty Hurney don’t have a ton of cap space to deal with this free agency with the Panthers having 27+ million in dead cap from Matt Kalil’s contract (Thanks alot Dave Gettleman) and Luke Kuechly’s retirement.
In the 2016 NFL Draft the Panthers selected Cornerback James Bradberry out of Stamford with the 62nd pick in the 2nd round. Bradberry went on to have the best season out of all rookie cornerbacks according to pro football focus, 0.1 higher rating than Jaylen Ramsey.
In 2017 Bradberry had a good season with 85 tackles but was criticized for not getting interceptions and pass deflections, in 2018 James had the 3rd most pass deflections by a CB in the league totaling 15. The past season (2019) was definitely Bradberry’s best season in the league totaling 65 tackles, 1 sack, 3 interceptions and 12 pass deflections.
“I feel like I’m a top corner in this league,” Bradberry has said, “and I want to be compensated as such.” Bradberry has shadowed three of the toughest receivers in the NFL six times a year in his own division the past 4 seasons, matching up with Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, and Mike Evans on a regular basis. James has handled his own in those spots if the Panthers don’t want these guys running through them i suggest signing Bradberry.
Big and long at 6’1/212, Bradberry turns 27 in August, and his asking price is likely to start at $14 million per year. The Panthers can pay this contract if they want to but with other needs I’m not sure how likely or unlikely it is. What I do know is that without Bradberry this defence, that has already lost so much, won’t be able to handle losing their number one cornerback for the second time in the past 5 years (Josh Norman in 2015).
Carolina has not had a legit number one cornerback for longer than their rookie deals since Chris Gamble (2004-2012). Moving forward i don’t want to see James Bradberry in another jersey like Washington or the Jets like it’s been rumored but if he isn’t on this team in 2020, it’ll be a long season watching the defense. I hope the Panthers make the most logical decision and that we have a plan regardless of the outcome.
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