Nigel Bradham has had a big impact on the Eagles since he was signed in 2016. After a tremendous first season, he stepped up as a leader of the defense when Jordan Hicks was injured during the Super Bowl season.
Bradham was rewarded with a shiny new contract after that remarkable run. A contract that will keep him in Philadelphia until 2022 – unless the Eagles don’t pick up the option for 2020.
If the Eagles choose to pick up his option, he will be accounted for around a 10 million cap hit, which would make him the 9th most expensive player on the roster – a lot for a position the Eagles apparently don’t value.
A steady decline
Early in Bradham’s career, he was a tackling monster. He earned high grades by various analytical sites, and in 2013 he peaked with making 18 tackles for every missed tackle.
Since then, the tackling level of the veteran has declined steadily, and in 2019 he was among the worst tackling LBs, missing every 7th tackle he attempted.
Expensive veteran presence
As of right now, all three starting (Gerry, KGH, Bradham) LBs will be free agents if Eagles decline Bradham’s option.
The development on the defensive side of the ball in terms of Jim Schwartz applying for HC job and contract situations will definitely alter the decisions. As of right now, Bradham’s contract is massive compared to what he brings to the team, taking his decline in level of play in consideration.
But without Bradham, there’s really no cornerstone at a position that could see an entire overhaul this year. He’s been consistent since signing with the Eagles and despite a dip in production, still rallied to 61 tackles in 12 games, along with a pick and 5 passes defensed. If there is a cause for concern over Nate Gerry’s development for instance, losing their most experienced linebacker would be a huge hit to take.
The Eagles already let Jordan Hicks walk and watched him thrive in Arizona. Can they really afford to run that same risk with Bradham? If the decline is one that will continue into next season, then time will be ticking for the 30-year old and it may not be much of a risk at all. But at the very least, the Eagles will be forced to consider significant changes at Linebacker for once.
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