Vikings free agency decisions: Garrett Bradbury
The Minnesota Vikings are currently facing a difficult decision regarding the future center, Garrett Bradbury. Bradbury, a former first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has been inconsistent during his time with the team until this past season.
As Bradbury prepares to enter free agency, the Vikings must decide whether to re-sign him or let him walk. Bradbury certainly showed last year that he has the potential to be a solid center in the league, but his inconsistency and occasional struggles with powerful defensive tackles make his future with the Vikings uncertain. Which leads to the question: should the Vikings re-sign Bradbury?
When we take a look at Bradbury’s career as a Viking, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to separate his first three seasons from the most recent season, but that’s exactly what we need to do because this most recent season is the reason why this conversation is even a debate
Pro: Bradbury's play improved
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
After grading out as one of the bottom ten overall centers in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, Bradbury catapulted himself to 10th overall in the NFL this past season. After averaging a 40.4 pass-blocking grade and a 66.0 average run-blocking grade in his first three seasons from Pro Football Focus, Bradbury finished with a career-high in pass-blocking grade (68.1) and run-blocking grade (72.4).
Pro: Offensive Line Stability
2021, in Eagan, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
In every season since Bradbury was drafted, the Vikings have added talent somewhere on the offensive line. The left side is now stable with Christain Darrisaw and Ezra Cleveland, and the right side is solidified at tackle with Brian O’Neil, while rookie right guard Ed Ingram showed promise as the season progressed. Stability is important on the offensive line, and the Vikings have a chance to continue that into the future by signing Bradbury.
With many holes on the Vikings roster that need to be filled this offseason, it could behoove them to sign Bradbury. This would ensure that they wouldn’t have to go find his replacement, and it would also ensure stability across the offensive line for another season.
Con: Average Play and Injuries
Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Since Bradbury entered the league back in 2019, he’s averaged 26.25 pressures per season which had landed him in the top ten for pressures allowed among centers in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Even last season, which was his best as a professional, he was tied for 6th most in the NFL among centers with 24 pressures allowed.
A lot of the criticisms of Bradbury are rarely in the running game but rather in the passing game. It’s the weakest part of his game and mainly due to Bradbury being a smaller center by league standards. His lack of size often leaves him vulnerable to massive defensive linemen who appear to be getting stronger with every passing year.
Combine his poor play in pass-blocking situations with his recent back injury, and there are valid concerns about who Bradbury will be when he returns next year. Sometimes players bounce back from back injuries and can be just fine; other times they are never the same person. The Vikings fans can look back to former Vikings center John Sullivan for an example.
Con: Bradbury might cost too much
(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
While the Vikings have many holes on their roster, one could argue that re-signing Bradbury would not be worth the price tag. Pro Football Focus estimates Bradbury’s contract to be about three years and $18.5 million ($6.25 per season). Is that worth what you’ll get from Bradbury from a production standpoint? Could you be better off paying less for another player and drafting a replacement? That’s the question that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has to answer.
There have been reports that the Vikings are interested in re-signing Bradbury, but only at the right amount. Otherwise, they could look to target Jets impending free agent Connor McGovern, whom has already been linked to the Vikings.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
While maintaining offensive line stability is important, the Vikings should proceed with caution in this situation with Bradbury.
He’s had one good season in his first four in the league, is coming off a back injury, and looks to be a tad expensive for a team that is looking to rebuild their defense on the fly.
Adofo-Mensah is methodical in his approach to roster construction, and he likely has an idea of what Bradbury is worth. This regime has no past connection to Bradbury, which could make moving on from him easier. In the end, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Vikings re-sign Bradbury before free agency starts.
The Vikings would be wise to feel out the market and move in another direction in the case that the price gets too high, especially since last season could very well be an anomaly.