17. CB James Bradberry
Bradberry has said he would play under the franchise tag, but the somewhere between retooling and rebuilding Panthers won’t be using the tag on him. As he reportedly seeks $15 million per year on his next contract, he will be plying his trade elsewhere going forward barring something unforeseen.
The easy tie and fit for Bradberry is the Washington Redskins, with former Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera now there. A report from Connor Hughes of The Athletic also pointed to the New York Jets as a specific other team in the mix, among 22 teams that have “made calls” to express interest.
Bradberry is a big corner (6-foot-1, 212 pounds) with long arms (33-3/8″ at the 2016 NFL Combine) and decent speed, so any transition from being primarily a zone corner in Carolina to a man-to-man scheme elsewhere shouldn’t be too difficult from a physical standpoint. He has also been very well-tested, going up against (as in literally shadowing) Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and Mike Evans in the NFC South.
In six combined games against Bradberry last year, that top-end trio of wide receivers totaled 288 yards.
Bradberry may reset the top of the cornerback market in virtual parallel with Byron Jones, as a lot of teams vie for both but ultimately pick one.