San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel, left, is tackled...

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel, left, is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry during the first half of the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia.  Credit: AP/Matt Slocum

PHILADELPHIA — When the 2022 season began with team workouts last spring, there were a lot of people on the Eagles, and even a few people outside of the organization, who thought they had a chance to do what they ultimately did in reaching Super Bowl LVII.

James Bradberry?

“I was just sad I didn’t have a job,” the cornerback said of his mindset at that time.

Back then he still was technically a member of the Giants, but he had known all offseason that his tenure with the team would be ending one way or another. The contract he had signed with the Giants in 2020 had brought in a Pro Bowl player but also a lopsided contract with a massive salary-cap hit that made his future with the team fiscally untenable.

Over the course of several months,  new Giants general manager Joe Schoen tried to find a trading partner for Bradberry but eventually had to make the difficult decision to simply cut him.

So Bradberry was unemployed.

Not for long, it turned out. The Eagles quickly pounced, signing him to a one-year contract for $7.25 million, and he became an integral part of their secondary and their journey to the Super Bowl.

“The position I was in, I was just trying to make sure I got to a team and I was going to do my part,” Bradberry said. “That’s what I’ve been focusing on this whole year to make sure I did my part because I know we have a great team here. I knew we had a really good team, the pieces that were already here and the pieces they brought in. I just wanted to make sure I did my part.”

Bradberry was one of the final additions to a roster that in the course of the 2022 offseason also added free agents Haason Reddick and Kyzir White and traded for A.J. Brown and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

When Sunday’s NFC Championship Game ended with a 31-7 victory over the 49ers, Bradberry allowed himself to celebrate.

“It was really exciting,” he said. “Really, really exciting. I was probably screaming a whole lot, just running around yelling. We still have one more game and that’s the most important one. We have to get that win.”

The Eagles will face Kansas City in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 12.

Bradberry's tenure as a Giant showed he is even-keeled and far from excitable, and even Sunday's big win barely budged him from that stoicism. As he stood at his locker amid the postgame hoopla, prefacing his answers with a thoughtful “Hmmm” and barely breaking a smile, it was hard to tell that the Eagles had won.

One of the few hints was the smell of victory cigars and Bradberry’s complaint that one had not yet made its way to him.

“I’m looking for them now,” he said, craning his neck.

It was pointed out to him that he was far from exuding the delight he professed to be experiencing.

“I’m lit right now,” he said. “I’m not really showing it, but I’m pretty happy. I’m pretty happy.”

Maybe because, for one more game at least, he knows he’ll have a job.

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