The Giants and Jets have both made big-money investments in cornerbacks over the last four years, only to get less than satisfying returns. Still, both may be poised to do it again next week.
And they seem to be targeting the same ones.
There could be a Giants vs. Jets showdown brewing for the services of the top corners since both local teams have expressed some level of interest in free agents Byron Jones and James Bradberry, according to NFL sources. They've both also signaled that their interest is real and that -- to a point -- they are willing to spend.
And they'll have to, since both players could reset a corner market that is already off the charts. The 27-year-old Jones could be looking at a deal worth $17 million per season, according to some sources, while the 26-year-old Bradberry is likely to get at least $15 million per season. One source said the feeling is the Jets are more willing to meet those prices than the Giants.
The fact that either team is willing to dip back into the deep end of the free agent cornerback pool shows how desperate their situations have become at that position. The Jets are just two years removed from giving a five-year, $72.5 million contract to free agent Trumaine Johnson -- a deal that, thanks to injuries, poor play and disruptive behavior turned out to be one of the worst in franchise history. And two years before that, the Giants gave a five-year, $62 million deal to Janoris Jenkins, a player who had plenty of issues on and off the field, too.
Regardless of their willingness to spend, neither New York team is considered the favorite to land either Jones or Bradberry, sources said. A fierce bidding war is expected that could also include the Redskins, Eagles, Raiders, and likely a few more teams. Back at the NFL scouting combine in late February, the consensus seemed to be that Jones was bound for Philadelphia and Bradberry was bound for Washington, where he'd reunite with former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.
So the presence of the Giants could at least drive up the price for the division rivals. But that's not why the Giants are in it. They have an obvious need for a veteran corner since their returning starters -- DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal -- are both essentially going into their second NFL seasons. They both have shown plenty of promise, but little in the way of actual results. After dumping Jenkins in December after he called a fan a "retard" on Twitter, the Giants knew they would need an experienced corner to guide those two along.
As for the Jets, their cornerback corps was a mess last season, and they are about to cut the troublesome Johnson, and will likely do the same to Daryl Roberts. Overhauling the group that's left behind is one of Jets GM Joe Douglas' top priorities, a source said, right behind rebuilding their offensive line.
Jones, a first-round pick out of UConn by the Cowboys in 2015, is considered by most to be the top corner available, though he has only two interceptions in five NFL seasons and none since 2017. Current Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was the Dallas head coach when they drafted Jones. And Bradberry was a second-round pick of the Panthers in 2016 when current Giants GM Dave Gettleman was the GM in Carolina. He had three interceptions last season.
If the New York teams whiff on Jones and Bradberry, there are other options in a deep free-agent market for corners, including Denver's Chris Harris, Houston's Bradley Roby, Tennessee's Logan Ryan and even former Giant Prince Amukamara and Jets free agent Brian Poole.