If Nigel Bradham's second year on the field with the Eagles resembles his first, the team will be more than pleased with the two-year, $7-million investment it made in him before last season.

In order for that to happen, however, the veteran linebacker must stay out of trouble off the field. He has plenty of incentive to do exactly that after the recent court decision in South Florida that provided him with a path to avoid a criminal record.

By being placed in a deferred prosecution program, he has a chance to avoid the felony battery charges stemming from a Miami Beach altercation last July during which he allegedly fractured a hotel employee's nose. Typically the conditions of such a program require the participant to stay out of trouble with the law, pay the costs of prosecution, make a charitable donation, perform community service, participate in counseling and pay restitution to the alleged victim.

That is reasonable retribution for the things Bradham was accused of doing, and the Eagles should be elated that they apparently will not lose the services of perhaps their most underrated player from a year ago. It is actually surprising that the NFL did not punish Bradham because other players have been suspended for similar incidents.

The Eagles will no doubt be happy to support Bradham because he can play, and they believe he is a good person who did a bad thing.

According to statistics kept by the Eagles, Bradham was third on the team in tackles last season with 99. He was also third in tackles for losses with seven and tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles. He knocked down five passes, had two hurries, two sacks and an interception. He was a playmaker and much more if you listen to his teammates and position coach.

"He's one of those guys that, if you put him in the right system and let him do what he does best, he can be a real solid linebacker in this league," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "He's our enforcer. We can put him in positions where he can cover and use his athletic ability. But if we need him to go hammer somebody, he does that for us, and that's huge. We have a lot of versatile guys, but we don't have a true enforcer in the back end except for him. He's a tone setter."

Bradham, who will turn 28 in September, was also a defensive director in 2016 because he was one of the few players well versed in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's scheme.

"He brought a level of confidence and a level of knowledge that a lot of us didn't have going into it," middle linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "So any question we had and anything we needed to know out there on the field … he was on top of it. It really helped the learning curve early."

Linebackers coach Ken Flajole said he did not know much about Bradham before last season but thought the world of him by the end of the year.

"I thought he had a solid year for us," Flajole said. "Certainly like everybody in the room there are things he could work on to get better, but I thought he brought a little bit of a swagger to our room because he's the one guy when you put the pads on and you talk about the physical aspects of the game, that's something he relishes and enjoys."

Flajole was also impressed with Bradham's football IQ.

"He's a very instinctual football player," Flajole said. "The thing that impressed me about Nigel is how well he can think ahead of the problem. He'll see something out there by formation, and he'll adjust his own alignment somehow so he'll have a better chance to have a successful down. He's very sharp mentally."

Bradham needs to be equally as sharp off the field. In addition to the Miami Beach battery charge, he was also arrested in October after attempting to carry a handgun onto an airline flight destined for Philadelphia. The latter incident was more stupid than violent but not entirely forgiven by his defensive coordinator.

"You do dumb-ass things, pretty soon you're going to be labeled as a dumb ass," Schwartz said of his linebacker after the gun incident.

Flajole declined to reveal what he told Bradham after that incident.

"He works hard, and ultimately I think he's a good kid," the linebackers coach said. "We can all go back into our youth and say, 'I wish there were some decisions we all would have made differently.' I know I would."

Perhaps, but Bradham has used up his allotment of strikes. He has proven he is a terrific football player, but he must also be a good person capable of controlling the aggression off the field that makes him so valuable when he is on it.