After trading for a veteran defensive back in a contract year, the Eagles now have a month to keep C.J. Gardner-Johnson off the market. They intend to pursue that path.
The NFC champions are expected to make a push to bring back the versatile defender, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). The Eagles have a number of high-profile players on the cusp of free agency, and Gardner-Johnson saw his Saints extension talks not produce a resolution. But re-up talks should commence soon.
Philadelphia traded a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-rounder to the New Orleans for Gardner-Johnson just before the season and moved the ex-Saints slot cornerback to safety upon acquiring him. Gardner-Johnson, 25, started throughout his Eagles walk year and should command an upper-echelon safety deal.
The former fourth-round pick missed time due to a lacerated kidney this past season, requiring an IR stay. Despite missing five regular-season games, Gardner-Johnson still led the NFL with six interceptions. Pro Football Focus did not view his safety work on the same level as his slot performance, ranking the fourth-year defender just inside the top 50 at his new position. But it will still be costly for the Eagles to extend the acclaimed trash-talker.
Howie Roseman‘s GM tenure has included trades for players in contract years. The Eagles did so in 2022 and came to terms with A.J. Brown on a record-setting (guarantee-wise) receiver accord. Gardner-Johnson should not be expected to command a deal in the Derwin James–Minkah Fitzpatrick neighborhood, but his second contract comes at a time in which many of his teammates are also on the verge of free agency.
Philly also has its other safety, Marcus Epps, on track to hit the market. Ditto James Bradberry, with Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox the only Eagles secondary starters still under contract. Jason Kelce, Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Miles Sanders and Isaac Seumalo are also a month from free agency. The Eagles may not be planning to finalize deals with many of their UFAs-to-be ahead of free agency, Garafolo adds.
Some of these players are Eagle institutions, so it is difficult to imagine them playing elsewhere. The team, however, has younger free agents to take care of and a quarterback contract to address. The team is expected to begin Jalen Hurts extension talks soon. Hurts’ Super Bowl LVII performance only enhanced his value, which stands to affect some of the veteran presences on the franchise’s most recent Super Bowl squad.