James Bradberry was walking his fluffy French Bulldog, Izzy, just outside his offseason residence in Atlanta on Tuesday evening when he ultimately made his big decision.
The All-Pro cornerback agreed to terms with the Eagles on a three-year deal worth $38 million with $20 million in guaranteed salary.
“Breath of fresh air will give you a clear mind,” Bradberry told The Inquirer over the phone. He chuckled before diving into the intricacies that led him back to the Eagles.
“It means a lot, truly, to be back in Philadelphia,” Bradberry said. “Especially having the season we just had. It feels good to come back and keep trying to compete for the ultimate goal which is the Super Bowl.
“Of course, I wanted to go to a place where I got paid a substantial amount — enough to where I felt comfortable with. But I also wanted the fit to be right, as well. That was important for me.”
Bradberry, who turns 30 in August, arrived to Philadelphia last offseason on a one-year deal worth up to $10 million after he was a cap cut casualty by the Giants. The veteran cornerback immediately bolstered a division rival and helped solidify the Eagles secondary with him starring on the opposite side of cornerback Darius Slay. Aside from his consistent play, Bradberry earned his own vindication when he picked off former teammate and Giants quarterback Daniel Jones in the NFC divisional round.
While he was flagged for holding on a controversial call that led to the team’s fate being sealed in Super Bowl LVII, Bradberry proved to be elite in many aspects. He enjoyed the best season of his career while allowing a 51.6 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks, which ranked second in the NFL. Since 2016, he leads all NFL defensive backs in passes defensed with 99.
Bradberry acknowledged the large amount of uncertainty that hovers a defensive unit that ranked second in the NFL in 2022.
Before retaining Bradberry, the Eagles had lost four defensive starters in free agency, including defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, linebackers Kyzir White and T.J. Edwards, and safety Marcus Epps. Veteran defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson also are free agents, while Slay is seeking new guaranteed money with his own contract.
» READ MORE: Eagles give cornerback Darius Slay permission to seek trade
Bradberry also said he received “more lucrative offers” from a couple of other teams, but he viewed the Eagles’ run to Super Bowl LVII as a “preview of what’s to come” in regards to sustained success. After he and his representation assured the financials were in a “good spot,” Bradberry pointed to the Eagles offense in addition to his confidence in the front office and general manager Howie Roseman.
“Of course, our offense is really, really, really good,” Bradberry said. “And they’re going to be really good for a long time. Jalen Hurts and those guys, they make the whole engine run. I love competing every day with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. They’re really the ones that get it started, and I know we have a good front seven to set the tone.
“I have belief Howie is going to do a good job of building our [defensive] core back up. I have a lot of confidence in the team in general. That was a big part of my decision.”
» READ MORE: How will the Eagles defense change — or stay the same — under new Sean Desai?
Prior to his decision, Bradberry revealed that he communicated with new defensive coordinator Sean Desai. The pair discussed some of the details behind Desai’s scheme and playbook, imagining potential fits that bode well with Bradberry’s play-style as a physical cornerback. Bradberry thrives in zone coverages and possesses a long wingspan (78.625 inches) and large hands (9.13 inches) to recover when deployed in both inside and outside leverage.
“I spoke to him, and we talked about what he was going to run,” Bradberry said. “I’m pretty comfortable with it. I’m not going to say it’s like our defense last year, but I feel like there are some things that are similar because he switches things up with his Quarter calls, Cover 2, Cover 3, and whatnot. I’m familiar with playing in different schemes, so I feel pretty comfortable playing for [Desai].”
Bradberry, who has netted $41.3 million in career earnings, according to Over The Cap, doesn’t have any immediate plans in regards to early spending on his new deal with the Eagles.
“I did enough splurging early on,” he said with a laugh. “I’m just going to take care of my family and put the rest in the bank, be smart, and invest it.”
Bradberry concluded: “I’m dedicating myself to this team. I want to be a piece on this defense. I want to bring Philadelphia a Super Bowl title.”