James Bradberry’s days with the Giants are numbered.
General manager Joe Schoen essentially admitted Wednesday that the Giants are on the verge of moving on from their former Pro Bowl cornerback – even if it means cutting him and settling for no return just to free up salary-cap space. Schoen also said he is surprised a stronger trade market never developed.
“It’s unfortunate because he’s a great kid,” Schoen told WFAN’s Carton & Roberts. “He’s a starting corner in the league. It’s just where we are financially – we still have to sign our draft picks, we still have to be able to sign our practice squad and then have replacement costs during the season.”
Bradberry carries a $21.9 million salary-cap charge but trading or releasing him would free up at least $10.1 million. If he is designated a post-June 1 release (which can be done regardless of timing), the savings bumps to $11.5 million with a $1.4 million dead cap charge in 2023, when the Giants have more breathing room.
The Giants didn’t want to just give away one of their best assets, which is why they kept Bradberry past March 16 and added $2 million to their tab.
But the market never developed when trade partners realized the Giants had no leverage. Schoen also indicated that teams wanted to restructure Bradberry’s contract rather than pay him a $13.4 million salary for one season and were granted permission by the Giants to have those discussions with his agents.
“I thought there would be more interest,” Schoen said. “There were some teams that showed interest pre-draft and we had a couple different times compensation in place – and the contract never worked out. We did have good talks with other teams and [his] agent had good talks with teams. Sometimes if you are going to renegotiate a contract and you couldn’t come to an agreement, it is what it is.”
The Giants’ decision to trade down twice in the second round of last weekend’s NFL draft rather than select a cornerback created some thought that maybe the they might find a way to keep Bradberry. The 28-year-old former free-agent prize has not been part of the team’s voluntary workouts but has remained in touch with Schoen.
But Schoen sounded disappointed as he said he expects “a resolution hopefully by the end of the week.” He later course-corrected on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN and left open the possibilities of restricting Bradberry’s contract or trading him for a 2023 draft pick.
“There’s a situation where we could convert the salary [into a bonus] and kick it down the road,” Schoen said, “but that’s why we are in the situation we are in, because of moves like that – which we are trying to avoid. … It’s unfortunate that his contract is structured in a way that he is one of the few you can move on from and it wouldn’t kill you. That’s what I’ve been fighting over the last three months and continue to wrestle with.”
The Giants, who have $6.2 million in cap space according to NFL Players Association records, will need about $12.8 million just to sign their 11 draft picks. The irony is former general manager Dave Gettleman created the mess, but also was the one who drafted Bradberry with the Carolina Panthers and brought him to the Giants.
“It stinks,” Schoen said, “because James is a great kid, he’s a true professional, he can still play. Obviously if you move on from him, there’s a huge void on your roster. For what’s best long-term for the franchise, we’re trying to weigh that while also trying to compete today and build for tomorrow.”