C.J. Gardner-Johnson is leaving the Philadelphia Eagles to sign a one-year, $8 million contract worth $6.5 million guaranteed with the Detroit Lions, according to a report from NFL insider Tom Pelissero.
This development is a bummer for a large majority of Birds fans who wanted to see CJGJ remain in Philly. Recent reports indicated the Eagles were making a “big push” to re-sign him.
But could it have been that big of an effort if he left to merely sign a one-year deal that makes him the NFL’s 20th-highest paid safety in terms of annual value?
It seems like CJGJ expected NFL free agency to be much more lucrative than it ended up being for him. And it wasn’t a totally unreasonable thought considering the combination of his age (25), versatility (able to play nickel corner or safety), and production (led the NFL interceptions last season).
But his market was clearly wasn’t incredibly strong if he had to wait until nearly a week after legal tampering opened to find a deal. Perhaps teams had questions about his personality. Perhaps they believed his interception total was so high due to some good fortune and not just skill. Perhaps they didn’t love the fact he ranked 51st out of 93 safeties graded by Pro Football Focus last season.
Skinny on why C.J. Gardner-Johnson is no longer in Philly:— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) March 20, 2023
- #Eagles made multi-year offer early in FA.
- He was looking for more.
- They moved on, signed Bradberry, extended Slay.
- He/agent overvalued not realizing market/league viewed him as risk.
- Settled for prove-it deal.
In any case, CJGJ is gone after having a good season for the Eagles last year. He likely would’ve been named to the Pro Bowl had he not gotten hurt and thus ruled ineligible to receive votes for a certain stretch of time.
This departure means the Eagles will have two new starting safeties in 2023. The Birds previously saw Marcus Epps walk out the door to join the Las Vegas Raiders early last week.
The only Eagles safeties currently under contract: Reed Blankenship, K’Von Wallace, and Andre Chachere. Blankenship has shown starting potential so he could very well be in the mix for a big role. Wallace is likely more suited to be a backup at best. Chachere is a journeyman and fringe roster guy.
And so the Eagles will need to add more talent to the back end. Old friend Jalen Mills, who was recently released by the New England Patriots, seems like a logical possibility. New Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai has ties to Adrian Amos from their time together on the Chicago Bears. John Johnson, who was designated as a post-June 1 cut by the Cleveland Browns, is only 27 and had previously drawn interest from the Eagles.
CJGJ is the seventh starter from last year’s team to leave Philadephia this offseason. Check out the full list here.