The C.J. Gardner-Johnson signing has been one of the most intriguing stories in the NFL offseason thus far.
Coming off of a great season where he played a pivotal role for the Philadelphia Eagles, in a year in which they narrowly lost the Super Bowl, CJGJ opted against returning and running it back with Eagles, deciding instead to sign with the Detroit Lions for a "prove-it" deal for one year worth up to $8 million.
Perhaps Gardner-Johnson wanted a bigger role or to reunite with his former coach, Dan Campbell. While it may never be fully known why CJGJ decided against re-signing with Philadelphia, the Eagles will have their work cut out for them to try to replace his production.
In the 2022-2023 season, Gardner-Johnson racked up six interceptions and 67 combined tackles for the Eagles, while playing a total of 729 total regular season defensive snaps. Philadelphia now has a glaring hole in their backline, even with the returns of starting cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry.
That being said, there is a multitude of ways for the Eagles to replace Gardner-Johnson, both in terms of position and production. Obviously, they could fill their starting safety slot via the draft.
Philadelphia will have six total selections in the upcoming draft, including four in the first three rounds and two in the first round. They’ll have both their own first-round selection at 30, and the New Orleans Saints’ pick at 10 as a result of a former trade.
For example, the Eagles could target safety Brian Branch out of Alabama, either by trading down from 10 or using their 30th-overall pick if he’s still on the table..
They could also address this need via free agency, where mercenaries such as Adrian Amos and John Johnson III are in need of new employers. However, Philadelphia could also address the vacancy with one of their many eligible in-house options.
The Eagles just took a risk in signing former second-round pick Greedy Williams. Perhaps they plan to convert him into a safety to fill CJGJ’s former role. They could also turn to Josiah Scott, Avonte Maddox, Andre Chachere, or K’Von Wallace.
While it won’t be easy to replicate what Gardner-Johnson brought to the Eagles’ elite defense, they have plenty of diverse avenues to try to fill that gap. Whether it be through the draft, free agency, or simply by trusting a larger role to one of their in-house players, the Eagles are set up well to repeat their success next season.
Gardner-Johnson tied for the NFL lead in interceptions last season. Now, he joins a Detroit defense that needed more playmakers. https://t.co/Slxh6dsjAj
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 20, 2023
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| Title: Different ways the Philadelphia Eagles can replace C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s production
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: Mar 27, 2023