You might not like what Howie Roseman said about James Bradberry

You might not like what Howie Roseman said about James Bradberry originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Probably wasn’t the answer any Eagles fan wanted to hear.

When Howie Roseman was asked Tuesday about James Bradberry’s future and whether the beleaguered cornerback has a future with the Eagles, the GM didn’t hesitate.

“Yeah,” Roseman said. “He’s under contract. Part of our plan.”

Roseman’s 15-minute interview window at the NFL scouting combine Tuesday was up, and he was ushered off the stage at the Indiana Convention Center immediately after that, so there was no chance for any of the writers covering the combine in Indianapolis to follow up.

Which means those few words will have to suffice for now.

“Part of our plan.”

After earning 2nd-team all-pro honors in 2022, Bradberry struggled terribly in 2023 and was even benched for rookie Kelee Ringo in the playoff loss to the Bucs.

According to Stathead, Bradberry finished the 2022 season with the 2nd-best defensive passer rating among 70 cornerbacks who played at least 50 snaps. His 51.6 passer rating was surpassed only by Seahawks rookie Riq Woolen’s 48.7 mark. Bradberry also first among those 70 corners in yards allowed per target (4.4), and he allowed only two touchdowns all year.

This past year, quarterbacks targeting Bradberry had a 114.3 passer rating – more than twice their 2022 figure. That ranked 68th of 75 corners who played 50 snaps. Bradberry allowed an NFL-high 11 touchdowns and 7.3 yards per target. Those 11 TDs are the most on record since Stathead began tracking TD passes allowed in 2018.

Bradberry's decline was epic, and conventional wisdom says the Eagles will move on from the 30-year-old Bradberry, despite his unwieldy contract. After all, Ringo played very well as a 4th-round rookie, undrafted Eli Ricks had a promising rookie season, former Colt Isaiah Rodgers should be available after sitting out this year on the league’s suspended list, Darius Slay is still decent and the Eagles could very well draft a Day 1 or Day 2 corner as well.

So why would Roseman say what he said?

There are a few possibilities:

1) Eight years ago, Roseman traded Byron Maxwell, who was just as bad as Bradberry in his one year with the Eagles. Maybe Roseman thinks he can get something for Bradberry, although Maxwell was only 27 when the Eagles traded him to Miami. If Roseman indicates that the Eagles aren’t sure about Bradberry’s future, then his potential trade value goes down.

2) Perhaps the Eagles believe a new defensive coaching staff can help Bradberry turn things around. Defensive coordinators Sean Desai and Matt Patricia and secondary coach D.K. McDonald were all fired, replaced by Vic Fangio and three new defensive back coaches. Bradberry’s history has been that he’s followed weaker seasons (2017, 2019, 2021) with significantly better seasons (2018, Pro Bowl in 2020, 2nd-team all-pro in 2022). Maybe the Eagles think that can happen again.

3) Because of his contract, the Eagles may plan on bringing Bradberry back as a backup and keeping him around to avoid the huge amount of dead money they would take on if they released him ($17.2 million according to Spotrac or $4.7 million this year and $12.5 million next year with a post-June 1 designation).

Just because Roseman said “part of our plan,” doesn’t mean he’s definitely part of their plan. But it was a curious thing for him to say.

Roseman blamed himself for not being prepared with a backup slot when Avonte Maddox got hurt but said Bradberry isn’t the answer inside, where he was forced to play some snaps last year in an emergency.

“I think he’s an outside guy,” Roseman said. “I think when you look at the skill set there, that was one of the positions where as we got into the summer, we kind of knew we needed more depth there (and) we gave some guys opportunities to do it.

“I’ve got to do a better job of bringing in more guys to be able to play that position. I think that’s one area that we felt like in August maybe we need to add, so we tried some guys, but when you look at J.B. and his history and his success as an outside corner, to ask him to do something which is really a different position is hard.”

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