2. Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys, 27
Jones had an off year in 2019, then again, his 2018 Pro Bowl season, when he had 14 passes defended, was so good that it would have been hard to duplicate. To be fair he played through several injuries. Last year was also the first time Jones missed a game in six years. He has been incredibly durable.
When Byron Jones came out of UCONN in 2015 he was described as an athletic freak. His combine workout turned heads, elevating him into the first round. Since then he has been both hero and goat in Dallas but overall has been better than most other corners in the league.
How many times have New York Giants fans cursed Jones for breaking up a pass play against Big Blue? Now there is an opportunity for Jones to join the fold. It might be a little closer to happening with his former head coach, Jason Garrett, as part of Big Blue. The bigger question might be is he worth the truckload of money he would get?
1. James Bradberry, Carolina Panthers, 27
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Since entering the NFL as a second-round pick by the Panthers in 2016, James Bradberry has the third-most tackles among cornerbacks with 279. He hasn’t been selected for the Pro Bowl yet but has been a steady cover corner.
Bradberry’s high tackle total reinforces the fact he can play against the run. Carolina has been quite happy with his play and there is a slight chance he could get the franchise tag. Gettleman knows Bradberry well since he was the GM that drafted the corner for Carolina.
Last season, Bradberry stepped up to be the team’s shut down corner. His 12 passes defended in 2019 upped his four year total to 47. Those numbers will earn him a substantial raise over the $1.26M he received last year. Depending on the length of the contract, Bradberry could be the stabilizing force in the New York Giants secondary.
It’s not the best free agent cornerback class, however, it isn’t the worst either. There are some steady performers who would be upgrades over what the New York Giants have now. Unless Jeff Okudah falls to Big Blue’s fourth pick, it’s the best way for Gettleman to improve a very shaky pass defense.