Giants cut James Bradberry with no trade available

Giants cut James Bradberry with no trade available

The sins of the past regime could not be reconciled by the current front office and, as a result, cornerback James Bradberry is no longer a member of the Giants.

Getting rid of one of the healthiest and best players is not the healthiest and best way to run a team. First-year general manager Joe Schoen was boxed into a financial corner with Bradberry, 28, and what has been anticipated for months finally came down on Monday, when the top cornerback, with his debilitating salary, was purged from the roster.

Before Schoen ever took the job, he took a look at the books, and Bradberry’s $21.9 million salary-cap charge for 2022 stuck out as unwieldy. Schoen thought he could work a trade for the one-time Pro Bowl corner, a notion that took the Giants through the entire free agency signing period, with no deals to be had, as teams realized Schoen was up against a wall and waited for him out , anticipating an eventual release.

The Giants released James Bradberry on May 9, 2022.
The Giants released James Bradberry on May 9, 2022.
Matthew Swensen/Giants.com

This move saves the Giants at least $10.1 million on this year’s salary cap but will cost $11.7 million in dead money. If Bradberry is designated a post-June 1 cut, the Giants save $11.5 million on this year’s cap and push $1.4 million of the dead money charge to 2023.

Schoen knew the Giants could be no more than bargain shoppers in free agency and repeatedly pointed out he needed to create additional salary cap space to sign the 2022 draft picks — about $12.8 million will be needed to secure contracts for the 11 players selected — to sign the practice squad players and to have money in reserve to sign replacement players when injuries hit in the summer and during the season.

The Giants wanted a mid-round draft pick for Bradberry but, as it turned out, there were no takers. Bradberry’s $13.4 million salary for 2022 was impossible for teams to accommodate. Schoen said there were teams prior to the draft interested in making a deal for Bradberry but first needed to re-work his contract and no agreement could be reached on a renegotiation between Bradberry — who turns 29 in August — and the new team.

“I thought there would be more interest,” Schoen said Wednesday on WFAN, calling the eventual release of Bradberry “unfortunate because he’s a great kid.”

James Bradberry (No. 24) originally signed with the Giants in March 2020 on a three-year, $45 million deal
James Bradberry (24) originally signed with the Giants in March 2020 on a three-year, $45 million deal
USA TODAY Sports

Schoen spoke of “contingency plans” but he ultimately decided that keeping Bradberry by extending his contract to lower his 2022 cap charge was not in the best interest of the franchise, as that would push the salary cap damages down the road.

Dave Gettleman, the former Giants general manager, drafted Bradberry with the Panthers in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft and four years later, signed him to a three-year, $43.5 million deal with the Giants. Bradberry was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2020, missed only one game (COVID-19 related) in two seasons, and in 32 starts had seven interceptions. There is no one on the current Giants roster that comes close to Bradberry, in terms of NFL pedigree.

Wink Martindale, the new defensive coordinator, will never get the pleasure of having Bradberry as a top-end cover corner, which could hurt the preferred aggressive, pressure-packed approach he wants to install.

At the NFL owners meeting in late March, co-owner John Mara said releasing Bradberry “would hurt, because he’s a very good player and he has been the consummate professional for us.”

James Bradberry during a Giants-Eagles game in November 2021
James Bradberry during a Giants-Eagles game in November 2021
PA

Adoree’ Jackson, the remaining starting cornerback, told The Post that losing Bradberry “would be devastating, I’m just being honest. That’s not something I want to see.”

What this means for the Giants is that the cornerback position is now the most vulnerable on the entire roster. The top players at that position are Jackson and Aaron Robinson. Jackson arrived last season after signing a three-year, $39 contract in free agency and did not establish himself as a fixture on defense. Schoen was so desperate for cap relief in early April — the Giants were only $1 million over the cap at the time — that he restructured Jackson’s contract creating nearly $6 million in cap space by converting $8.9 million in salary into a signing bonus while adding a voidable year to a contract that was supposed to expire after the 2023 season.

Robinson, a 2021 third-round draft pick, started his NFL career on injured reserve and eventually got into nine games, with predictable early struggles. He is thought of more as a slot corner.

Two other cornerbacks on the roster, Darnay Holmes and Rodarius Williams, ended last season on injured reserve. Jarren Williams, who started two games last season, was re-signed as an exclusive rights free agent. In the recently-completed NFL Draft, the Giants selected only one cornerback, taking Cor’Dale Flott from LSU in the third round with the No. 81 overall pick. Schoen could have had higher-rated cornerbacks in the second round but opted to trade down twice, moving from No. 36 to No. 43 to eventually select Wan’Dale Robinson, a 5-foot-8 wide receiver out of Kentucky.

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