Eagles snap counts: Time to move on from James Bradberry?

Eagles snap counts: Time to move on from James Bradberry? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

After a disappointing 2023 regular season, James Bradberry finally saw his snaps slashed in a major way during the Eagles’ 32-9 playoff loss to the Bucs.

Bradberry, 30, started the game but after giving up some big plays, the Eagles began to use a heavier rotation at outside cornerback.

After playing more snaps than anyone on the defense this season (1,052/91%), Bradberry played just 39 of 70 in the wild-card round loss. There’s a good chance it was his final game as an Eagle.

The Eagles played rookies Kelee Ringo for 35 snaps and Eli Ricks for 15 in Tampa.

“We’ve done that in the past a little bit,” Bradberry said about the rotation. “It wasn’t as much as today. But we did it a little bit in the past. It was kind of an in-game adjustment.”

The veteran cornerback admitted it “for sure” hurt to have his snaps slashed.

Even in limited snaps on Monday, Bradberry really struggled. He gave up 5 catches on 6 targets for 108 yards, per PFF. And the one target that didn’t result in a catch was a drop by Mike Evans on a deep ball after he ran past the aging cornerback.

Bradberry was also responsible for 2 of the Eagles’ 13 missed tackles. One of them led to a 56-yard touchdown that basically ended the Eagles’ chances to win the game.

The Eagles signed Bradberry to a three-year, $38 million contract this past offseason but it was an extremely disappointing season for Bradberry, who was a second-team All-Pro in 2022.

If the Eagles decide to move on from Bradberry, they’re going to have to deal with a lot of dead cap money. With a normal release, Bradberry would leave $15 million in dead cap money, according to OverTheCap. With a post-June 1 release, Bradberry would eventually leave just $4.335 million in dead cap money in 2024 but the rest (nearly $11 million) would count the following season.

“We don’t know what holds for next year,” Bradberry said. “We don’t know who’s going to be here, who’s not going to be here. Because of course we didn’t live up to expectations. We had a lot of expectations going into this year. Whenever you don’t live up to those, of course people want to make changes. So that’s why I don’t really have thoughts right now. Just going to enjoy my offseason and whatever happens, happens.”

Other defensive notes

• The only three players to play all 70 snaps on defense were Avonte Maddox, Kevin Byard and Zach Cunningham. There’s a good chance all three won’t be here next season. While the Eagles might want Maddox back, it’s probably going to require some work on his contract as he enters the final year of his deal.

Darius Slay played 65 of 70 snaps but left with an apparent leg injury and needed to be carted off. After the game, Slay was having X-ray and was then seen walking gingerly through the hallway. The Eagles will likely be relying on Slay again in 2024 so this is something to monitor this offseason.

Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat played 49 and 47 snaps respectively. Sweat finally picked up a sack in this game after being shut out since Nov. 5. But in the final five games of the season, including the playoff game, these two combined for one sack. It looked like they got worn down as the season went on.

• While a lot of attention has been paid to Jason Kelce’s final game, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are set to be free agents. Cox played 38 snaps in this one and Graham played 33. Graham has already said he wants to be back for one final season in 2024 but we’ll see what happens with Cox. He’s 33 but played at a pretty high level in 2023. I wouldn’t rule out a return.

Nolan Smith played 16 snaps, which is more than he played in most games this season and got a sack. But Smith’s rookie season was a disappointment. The Eagles will hope the No. 30 overall pick shows more next season.

• Jordan Davis actually led the Eagles’ defensive tackles with 42 snaps and Jalen Carter played 37. These two guys weren’t great down the stretch and the Eagles need more from them in 2024.

Offensive notes

• The only two players to play every snap in this game were Jordan Mailata and Cam Jurgens. Jurgens played the final two snaps at center, which will likely be his full-time position in 2024.

• Kelce played 57 of 59 snaps and came off the field for the final two snaps. While Kelce hasn’t announced his retirement, it certainly seems like his NFL career is over.

DeVonta Smith played 57 of 59 snaps against the Buccaneers and set a franchise playoff record with 148 receiving yards. Smith is now eligible for a contract extension and deserves one.

D’Andre Swift played 40 snaps and Kenny Gainwell played 19 in the loss. Swift is set to be a free agent after playing this season on the final year of his rookie contract after being traded from Detroit.

• WR Julio Jones played 17 snaps before leaving with a concussion. That could be the end of his Hall of Fame career. Quez Watkins played 48 snaps and Olamide Zaccheaus played 38. Both will be free agents.

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