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Eagles News: Philadelphia viewed C.J. Gardner-Johnson “as a risk if he signed a multi-year deal”

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 3/21/23.

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Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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Inside Eagles free agency and Howie Roseman’s handling of C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Fletcher Cox, and Darius Slay - Inquirer
He was occasionally prone to mental errors or missed tackles, but his instincts and athleticism offset some of the on-field negatives. Off the field, Gardner-Johnson created some initial friction, but Eagles leaders and internal support got him to buy into the program in a contract year. But the team viewed him as a risk if he signed a multi-year deal — the risk being that Gardner-Johnson could be affected by the millions of dollars he was now being paid. That doesn’t mean it would have happened. But the Saints gave Gardner-Johnson away for essentially only a fifth-round pick for some of those same reasons and now the Florida product is with his third team in three seasons. He was liked by many within the Eagles, but Gardner-Johnson required extra care. His since-deleted tweets criticizing Gannon or claiming disrespect during the free agency process only hinted at the ways in which he tested his first two teams.

New Lions CB C.J. Gardner-Johnson sees young, talented team capable of big things- Pride Of Detroit
New Detroit Lions cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson came ever so close to getting a ring just over a month ago. As a key part of the Philadelphia Eagles defense—he led the NFL with six interceptions in 2022—Gardner-Johnson found himself in the title game and just a few plays short of lifting the Lombardi Trophy. Now in Detroit on a one-year deal reportedly worth up to $8 million, Gardner-Johnson sees a secondary that is more than capable of doing similar things this year. “To be honest with you, (the Lions defensive backs are) a little bit better,” Gardner-Johnson said during his introductory press conference Monday. “But that’s just on me. Everybody can look at the outside looking in, but this team is talented. This team, we can win a division. Everybody should feel that way. But when I look at the team, coming from where I came from, all the teams I’ve played on, won multiple divisions, been to playoff games, been to the Super Bowl, this team has what it takes to win a division, you know what I’m saying, get there, win a division, get to the playoffs.” On the surface, that’s an extremely bold claim. While the 2022 Lions and Eagles were relatively close in offensive production (Philly averaged 28.1 points per game , while the Lions averaged 26.6), Philadelphia had one of the best defenses in the league (sixth in DVOA, fourth in EPA), and the Lions had one of the worst (28th in DVOA, 31st in EPA). But the Lions have had an active week in free agency, with significant additions on the defensive side of the ball. Detroit now has three new experienced starters in the secondary with the signings of Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and Gardner-Johnson, which should help improve the Lions’ pass defense, which ranked 31st in yards per attempt and 27th in passes defended. Of course, if this all sounds like sour grapes from a player who, according to a tweet from Eagles reporter Jeff McLane, turned down a multi-year deal from the Eagles, maybe it is. But Gardner-Johnson insists it’s all love between himself and his former team.

Eagles lose C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Isaac Seumalo. What’s next following their departures? - The Athletic
In my experience covering free agency, the market value for a player seldom goes up as it progresses. The Eagles took care of other business — Bradberry, Fletcher Cox, Slay — and the market dynamics changed. One could suggest the Eagles should have been patient with what they allocated for Gardner-Johnson, although that could have left them at the mercy of missing out on premium positions while waiting on a player with a demonstrated capricious personality to accept a deal lower than he initially hoped. Free agency is a way to show you how you’re valued around the league, for better or worse. So I understand why Philadelphia proceeded as it did. But an Eagles defense with Gardner-Johnson is better than one without him. It’s true that going into free agency, I didn’t expect both Bradberry and Gardner-Johnson back. But if you told me Gardner-Johnson would sign a one-year deal for up to $8 million, then I’d think the Eagles could and should make it work. Gardner-Johnson has the right to pick the team and deal he wants, and that’s in Detroit. I think both sides will miss each other.

Ranking the Eagles’ positional needs, prior to the 2023 NFL Draft - PhillyVoice
1) Safety. The Eagles still only have four safeties on their roster after adding Justin Evans on Monday. Reed Blankenship showed as a undrafted rookie in 2022 that he could perhaps step into a bigger role at safety, and maybe even start, but otherwise the Eagles are paper thin. They will be adding multiple safeties between now and the start of training camp, and will likely try to add a starting-caliber safety prior to the draft.

Eagles expected to sign another former Saints safety - BGN
The safety injured his Achilles just weeks before the start of the 2019 season, and ended up not seeing the field again until 2022 when he signed with the Saints. Last year in New Orleans, Evans recorded 29 total tackles, two passes defended, and one forced fumble. He played in 15 games and started one. Multiple reports indicate that this is a depth signing for the Eagles and they are still looking to add another safety to the mix this offseason.

Safety Dance - Iggles Blitz
Reed Blankenship will be one of the starting safeties. I think he played well enough last year to deserve a starting spot. After him, things are open. K’Von Wallace played his best football last season, but he’s not shown enough to make you want him as a starter. I think Evans and Wallace will compete for backup roles. Jimmy Bama has a piece up on Evans that offers more detail on his bizarre NFL history. I was not a fan of Evans coming out of college. He was a sloppy tackler and that was a big turn-off for me. I haven’t studied his NFL tape. I’ll do that after the draft to get a better feel for him. Evans has solid size and athleticism. He’s been an effective player in the NFL. The biggest issue has been injuries. He played in 15 games last year so that is an encouraging sign that maybe the issues are behind him. As for the “more moves” comment, we’ll have to wait and see. Could be a draft pick or a free agent or even a trade. Remember that CGJ didn’t become an Eagle until August 30 last year. The Eagles have time left to figure things out. I’m sure they have a plan. That doesn’t mean it will work out as they want, of course. They are keeping their options open for now.

When We Could See Aaron Rodgers on the Field for the Jets—If Trade Happens - SI
Two things stuck out about the week the Eagles just had. One, it’s impressive how disciplined GM Howie Roseman and his group are in looking ahead a year at potential holes, which was clearly evident in how you could look at the departures of Javon Hargrave and T.J. Edwards, and immediately see two top-100 picks on the roster from last year, in Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, already in place to take their spots. Two, Philly’s ability to hunt down deals is equally noteworthy. It let 2019 second-round pick Miles Sanders, a starter on its Super Bowl team, walk. He got a four-year, $25.4 million deal from the Panthers that has over $7 million in cash coming this year and $13.1 million due over its first two years. The Eagles replaced him with Rashaad Penny for a one-year, $1.35 million contract. And, sure, Penny’s injury-prone, but his upside is probably greater than Sanders’s. Also, it’s pretty wild that they’ll get their core four back for another year. Brandon Graham (14th year), Jason Kelce (13th), Fletcher Cox (12th) and Lane Johnson (11th) have never played for another team. That, collectively, is a half century of experience with one organization between two offensive linemen and two defensive linemen, and has to be exceedingly rare.

Eagles propose requiring game clocks to display tenths of seconds - PFT
Using tenths of a second is already done in basketball and some other sports, for those last-minute situations when the difference between 2.9 seconds remaining and 2.0 seconds remaining might be significant. The Eagles want to bring it to the NFL as well. The precise wording of the Eagles’ proposed addition to NFL bylaws is: “The game clocks will display game time in accordance with all NFL Playing Rules and will count down in one second increments except in the last 30 seconds of the 2nd and 4th quarter, when the clocks will transition to a countdown in tenths of seconds.”

Cardinals sign UFA WR Zach Pascal - Revenge Of The Birds
Funny, but just as I was posting my Red Rain podcast, this sweet news nugget of Zach Pascal signing with the Cardinals popped up on Twitter —- this is a superb fit for the Cardinals and Zach Pascal, both for the offense and special teams. Fits the JG baller profile.

Cowboys free agency: TE Dalton Schultz signs with Houston Texans - Blogging The Boys
Since taking over as the starter in early 2020, replacing Blake Jarwin after a Week 1 injury, Schultz has posted 198 catches for 2,000 yards and 17 TDs. He’s been a favorite for fantasy owners and a dependable target for quarterback Dak Prescott. Still, in a conversation that goes back to last spring’s debate over the franchise tag, many feel that Schultz is an average starting talent. After a down year in 2022 where he failed to make up for the injuries and issues at wide receiver, Schultz seems to have convinced the Cowboys of that as well. Nevertheless, the five seasons that Dallas got out of Schultz was a great return for just a fourth-round pick in 2018. He overcame a slow start those first two years to become an offensive fixture for three seasons. Now he’ll get a chance to prove his doubters wrong with the Texans.

Brandin Cooks Renegotiates Contract with Cowboys - Over The Cap
That salary reduction puts the Cowboys in a better place with their wide receiver allocation this year and also strengthens their place in the trade that was made yesterday, with the new contract making it more likely that Cooks remains on the team next season. The new figure is more along the lines of a number 2 or very high level number 3 compared to his original salary which was closer to that of a lower level number 1. With a $10 million per year salary, Cooks’ contract would now be on par with Michael Gallup ($11.5 million a year) and give Dallas an option, depending on how things go this year, to move on from Gallup after the year. The lower salary and cap figures also makes things work better if the team keeps all three receivers in 2024 when CeeDee Lamb will either be playing on the option year or on a contract extension.

Giants lose center Jon Feliciano to San Francisco 49ers - Big Blue View
As it stands now, Ben Bredeson is the only player on the Giants roster who has any experience at center. Bredeson played in 11 games for the Giants in 2022, starting eight of them. The team is surely hoping that 2022 third round pick Joshua Ezeudu can claim the left guard spot, potentially freeing Bredeson to move over to center full time. However, the Giants’ depth along the offensive interior is wearing thin. The team could look to free agency, and this projects to be a solid draft class for guards and centers alike. It would be a surprise to see the Giants go into 2023 with their interior offensive line depth as it is now.

Washington Commanders Sale News: Magic Johnson joins Josh Harris group; contracts have delayed payouts - Hogs Haven
The sale of the Washington Commanders seems to be getting close to an announcement. There has been a lot of positive signs that Dan Snyder will finally sell the team that he has owned for almost 24 years. There are still issues that need to be resolved like Snyder’s demand for indemnification from the other NFL owners for liability from lawsuits and settlements. NFL owners are getting together for their annual meeting starting on March 26th, where a sale will be discussed, and possibly voted on, Sportico reported that Magic Johnson will be joining the Josh Harris group that also recently added billionaire Mitchell Rales. Johnson was also involved in the Harris group for their bid on the Denver Broncos last year. The Harris group is considered the favorites to purchase the team unless Jeff Bezos finally makes a bid.

Dan Snyder is so cheap he reportedly delayed free agents getting paid so a new owner picks up the bill - SB Nation
The Washington Commanders saga is drawing closer to the finish line. Reports emerged over the weekend that owner Dan Snyder had cleared out much of his personal office at the team facility, foreshadowing a sale of the team might be imminent. Now new details have surfaced about just how colossally cheap Snyder is being on his way out the door. Daron Payne, who was given a 4 year, $90M contract to stay with the team, as well as free agent signings Jacoby Brissett and Andrew Wylie had very curious clauses built into their contracts: That they wouldn’t receive the first payment of their signing bonuses until May 12, 2023. This is exceptionally bizarre, with the majority of players receiving first payments within a month, and a source who spoke to The Athletic believes it was designed to ensure a new team owner would be on the hook, not Snyder.

2023 ‘Hard Knocks’ candidates: Ranking Jets, Bears, Saints, Commanders by entertainment potential -
4) Commanders. Here’s another rebuilding team that could end up being the most drama-producing (for you thrill-seekers), depending on how things play out this offseason. The Commanders are in a transition period, even beyond the fact that ownership might change hands. New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy left a Super Bowl-winning, Patrick Mahomes-led team for a quarterback room that, at the time, was comprised of Sam Howell and Jake Fromm (and has since added Jacoby Brissett). Whether or not this eventually helps him land a head coaching job, he’s got guts, and I respect him for that. I’d love to see his interactions with the players. There are other feel-good stories to track here, from the continued journey of Brian Robinson, who made an inspiring return to the field last season despite suffering multiple gunshot wounds in an August incident, to Jeremy Reaves, whose emotional reaction to hearing from head coach Ron Rivera that he’d earned Pro Bowl made me want to follow his story more. The Commanders have question marks all over, but maybe Hard Knocks could answer them in 2023.

Tennessee Titans cutting Kevin Byard would be so, so dumb - Music City Miracles
So there is all of this stuff floating around out there about the Tennessee Titans asking All-Pro safety to take a pay cut. To be honest, I don’t really understand why they would even do that, but the report that they would release him if he doesn’t take that pay cut is insane to me. Byard is still playing at a high level and is everything you want in a team leader. The Titans keep telling us this isn’t a blowup, but if they are willing to move on from Byard it is insulting to our intelligence to call it anything other than a blowup. But here’s the thing, even in a blowup you still need some good, veteran leaders around. If you look up good, veteran leader in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Byard.


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