The Detroit Lions landed former Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant in the opening week of free agency, but they almost signed one of the best free agent corners the market had to offer a few days prior.
Former Panthers cornerback James Bradberry told the Jim Rome Show this week that his final decision was between two teams: the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions.
“So when free agency came, it was between the Lions and New York, and I just feel like New York was a better fit for me,” Bradberry said.
Now before you go ranting about how Matt Patricia’s “toxic culture” cost the Lions another good player, Rome followed up with Bradberry by asking him if there were any red flags about Detroit that kept him away. He said no.
“Oh no. I feel like both organizations are great. I feel like both coaches were great coaches,” Bradberry said. “I just feel like New York might have been a better feel for me. You know, it’s a great city, it’s something new for me—I’m more of an introvert, and I wanted to go to a big city just so I can explore a little bit more around the city.”
Bradberry ended up signing a three-year, $43.5 million contract—the third-highest per-year average ($14.5M) given to a cornerback this offseason, behind Darius Slay ($16.6M) and Byron Jones ($16.5M).
The Lions, on the other hand, agreed to terms with Trufant a couple days later, inking him to a two-year deal worth $20 million overall.
But the Lions’ interest in Bradberry brings up an interesting question. If the Lions were willing to spend upwards of $14.5 million a year on Bradberry, would they have been more inclined to re-sign Slay had the relationship not been fractured beyond repair?
After the Lions moved Slay to the Eagles for a third and fifth-round pick last week, the Pro Bowl cornerback told local media that he “had to get out” and “It was hard for me to play for [Patricia]” after two specific incidences in which he felt personally insulted by the Lions head coach.
Of course, there are other reasons to dish out money for a guy like Bradberry over Slay. For one, he’s three years younger than the former Lions cornerback. Additionally, he’s a little longer and more physical than Slay, something the Lions specifically covet. But in terms of NFL performance thus far, there’s no comparison. Slay the superior talent.
Regardless, the Lions now have Trufant as their No. 1 cornerback, and they likely aren’t done adding to the position, whether it be in the second wave of free agency or early in April’s NFL Draft.