NFL Free Agency Primer: C.J. Gardner-Johnson

The regular season has come to a close, and most teams have already begun the complicated process of preparing for the 2023 season. In the coming months, we'll be covering the impending free agents most capable of shifting the balance of power in the NFL.

The Player: C.J. Gardner-Johnson

The Philadelphia Eagles traded a pittance to acquire C.J. Gardner-Johnson ahead of the 2022 season, and he immediately returned their investment a hundred-fold. The fourth-year safety led the league with six interceptions despite missing five games, and he helped the Eagles defense finish first in the league in passing yards allowed and net passing yards per attempt. Gardner-Johnson was an effective starter in his three years with the New Orleans Saints, but he flirted with real stardom in his contract year.

The Fit:

Gardner-Johnson is a versatile, hard-hitting defensive back who even played a little bit of linebacker for the Saints, so every defense in the league could benefit from his presence. He really distinguished himself with the Eagles, so it would make sense to keep a good thing going, but any secondary in the league would benefit from his presence.

The Cost:

Given his outlier year, Gardner-Johnson is a prime candidate for a franchise tag, which would cost the Eagles $14.46 million on a one-year deal. If the Eagles were sufficiently impressed by his play and leadership in their one season together, he could sign a long-term deal similar to the five-year, $70 million fellow former Saint Marcus Williams signed with the Baltimore Ravens last year. 
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