Unexpected roster cut down day development: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles!
The Birds acquired him in a trade with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday morning. The terms are as follows, per NFL insider Tom Pelissero.
EAGLES RECEIVE: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, 2025 seventh-round pick
SAINTS RECEIVE: 2023 fifth-round pick, 2024 sixth-round pick (the lower of the Eagles’ two)
Whew. That’s a steal.
News of this trade emerged very shortly after it was reported that the Eagles were cutting Anthony Harris. That move came as a surprise considering Harris was in line to be a starting safety next to Marcus Epps.
Then again, it wasn’t so surprising since Harris didn’t play particularly well last season and he was pretty invisible this summer.
With Harris gone, the Eagles are replacing him with an outside the box option in CGJ. The former Saints defensive back has largely been a slot cornerback to this point; only 80 of his 2,460 career snaps (3.3%) have been logged at safety. (This much according to Pro Football Focus charting.)
While not yet a proven option as a full-time safety, there’s reason to be excited about CGJ’s outlook. The 24-year-old has been no stranger to making plays on the ball with 28 (!) passes defensed, five interceptions, and one forced fumble in 43 games played over three seasons. CGJ’s coverage numbers have also improved every year. He had a 93.6 passer rating allowed as a rookie before it lowered to 72.2 in 2020 and then 67.7 in 2021.
Further, Eagles fans are going to love the passion and swagger this guy plays with. He has a reputation for being a total pest. As evidenced below:
First picture that comes up when searching “Chauncey Gardner-Johnson” for a BGN article photo is this one of him kicking a rival's logo.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 30, 2022
Yeah, I think Eagles fans are gonna like this guy. pic.twitter.com/P4xRGsmDlA
Javon Wims to Chauncey Gardner Johnson. Almost like it’s Georgia-Florida week. pic.twitter.com/U58gWqURY3— blakejmorgan (@blakejmorgan) November 1, 2020
Sean Payton trash talking Tarik Cohen— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) October 20, 2019
And then Saints players measuring Cohen
my god pic.twitter.com/i0QxqMbsVd
This has the potential to be a really fun addition.
But, wait. Why were the Saints willing to get rid of him?
The word out of New Orleans is that contract extension talks broke down. CGJ is currently set to be a free agent after this season. It might be worth noting that the Saints aren’t exactly in the best cap situation; they’re currently projected to be $54,072,202 OVER the limit in 2023.
A glance at the Saints’ roster also reveals that they’re fairly loaded in the secondary. They currently employee Marshon Lattimore, Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Maye, Paulson Adebo, Bradley Roby, and P.J. Williams. Definitely not a bad group on paper.
And so losing CGJ doesn’t suddenly make the Saints’ secondary bad but it does only potentially make it weaker, should injuries and/or unexpected declines arise. The Saints are a better team in 2022 with CGJ on the team instead of future draft picks. And speaking of draft picks, the Eagles own the Saints’ 2023 first-round selection. So, all the more reason for the Birds to make this deal. Nicely done by Howie Roseman.
Ultimately, we’ll need to see how CGJ transitions to safety. It’s possible it doesn’t go as smooth as the Eagles might expect. But there’s ample reason to believe adding him upgrades their secondary. The Eagles only got better with this move and that’s an exciting proposition as they aim to be contenders.
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