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Eagles agree to sign cornerback James Bradberry, solidifying their secondary

PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles took a significant step toward shoring up their secondary Wednesday, agreeing to sign veteran cornerback James Bradberry to a one-year deal.

Bradberry, 28, was the New York Giants’ No. 1 cornerback last season, but the team released him for salary cap savings earlier this month. Bradberry’s contract is worth up to $10 million with incentives, according to an ESPN report.

Pairing Bradberry, a Pro Bowler in 2020, with Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox will give the Eagles a formidable starting cornerback rotation with plenty of depth behind it. It came as a surprise when the Eagles finished the draft without taking a cornerback or safety, but Bradberry gives them a quality starter opposite of Slay on the outside.

Bradberry was one of the NFL’s best corners in 2020, recording 14 pass breakups and allowing just 44 catches on 78 targets. Last year, he regressed a bit, allowing 60 catches on 92 targets with 13 PBUs. He still had four interceptions last season and has 15 in his six-year career.

Even if the Eagles get the 2021 version of Bradberry, he’d be a considerable upgrade at the No. 2 cornerback spot occupied by Steven Nelson last season. It’s also worth noting most of his struggles last year came in man coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. He played in man 22.5% of the time and allowed a quarterback rating for 127.2 on those snaps. In zone coverage, he was much better, allowing a QBR of 76.5 and recording 11 of his 13 PBUs.

Luckily for Bradberry, the Eagles were one of the most zone-heavy defenses in the NFL under defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon last season and figure to continue employing heavy doses of zone coverage.

The former second-round pick out of Samford has been durable throughout his career, starting 15 or more games every year since 2017. He played the first four years of his career with the Carolina Panthers before signing with the Giants on a three-year deal worth up to $43.5 million in 2020.

Needing to clear cap space to sign their rookie class, the Giants tried to trade Bradberry but eventually released him to save $10.1 million. According to ESPN, Bradberry had 11 teams reach out and seriously considered offers from three of them.