Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

Latest On Lions’ Secondary Plans

After ranking at or near the bottom across the board defensively last season, the Lions made a number of investments this offseason. Most of them came in the secondary. The team signed three expected starters and drafted a fourth in the second round. Two of those starters will not be available against the Packers tonight.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley are out, though the latter is moving closer to debuting for his new team. The former 49ers cornerback will not play against the Pack, per’s Tom Pelissero, but the Lions have a big role in mind for him once he is finally cleared to return.

The Lions are preparing to incorporate Moseley as a regular immediately. Dan Campbell said (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) the free agent pickup is expected to rotate with Jerry Jacobs upon debuting. Jacobs will still have a regular gig and a chance to fend off Moseley, but Detroit prioritized the latter in free agency. GM Brad Holmes said Moseley would have likely been out of the Lions’ price range had he not suffered an ACL tear in October 2022.

I think, more than anything, it will probably be by series,” Campbell said of Detroit’s upcoming CB rotation. “Certainly give [Moseley] a couple in a row where he gets a good feel and I think most of it will be we’ll put a governor on his reps so that we’ll be smart about that as he comes back. Then, really from there, it’s how does he feel?

I think everybody feels pretty good about as he goes out there, he’s going to get his legs back under him pretty quick. Certainly, we’ll see where that goes. The good news is if it’s not quite there yet then we still have Jerry and we’ll battle it out. We’re fortunate to have both those guys.”

Moseley, 27, has undergone two surgeries, the second coming this summer, and Rogers notes he would likely have debuted already were it not for a summer hamstring strain. Moseley started 33 games for the 49ers and added five postseason starts — including Super Bowl LIV. He operated as a boundary corner in San Francisco and, after signing a one-year deal worth $6MM, will be expected to start alongside Cameron Sutton and nickel Brian Branch in Detroit.

This represents a big year for Moseley, who will need to show sufficient form following the knee injury. Moseley signed a lower-level deal (two years, $9.38MM) in 2021 to stay in San Francisco. After his one-year Lions pact, time is running out for the sixth-year defender to score a lucrative payday.

Gardner-Johnson resides in the same boat, though he has a bit more time to cash in. The 25-year-old defender, however, has seen a torn pectoral muscle hijack his Motor City platform season. Although this injury frequently ends players’ seasons, Campbell has not ruled out the possibility of the starting safety returning late in this campaign.

Campbell said during a WXYT radio interview (h/t Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press) Gardner-Johnson is not a lock to be shut down. The Lions will likely hold back one of their eight IR activations for CJGJ. Tracy Walker, who suffered an Achilles tear early last season, started in place of Gardner-Johnson against the Falcons. Walker made for an unusual backup, having signed a three-year, $25MM deal after 34 games from 2019-21.

Gardner-Johnson had aimed to use this Lions season to command a better market than he did in March, when he agreed to a one-year deal worth $6.5MM with the Lions. While it is possible the Lions will have both their one-year DB investments — Gardner-Johnson and Moseley — on the field together later this season, the team has some backups with extensive starter experience holding down the fort.

Additionally, the Lions are on track to have two of their offensive starters — Taylor Decker and David Montgomery — back tonight. The veteran left tackle and UFA running back addition are slated to play, Rogers adds. Decker has missed the past two weeks; Montgomery was sidelined for Week 3.

Lions Place S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, DE James Houston On IR

The injuries C.J. Gardner-Johnson and James Houston sustained in Week 2 will lead to two key defenders moving off the Lions’ roster. The team placed the veteran safety and young defensive end on IR on Tuesday.

Initially reported as an ankle ailment, Houston is actually dealing with a fibula injury, Dan Campbell said (via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett). Additionally, Halapoulivaati Vaitai may be facing a multiweek absence. Campbell said the team’s right guard starter could be out for a bit, though he added (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) it does not look like an IR move will be necessary.

Gardner-Johnson may be on track to miss the rest of the season. The fifth-year DB is feared to have suffered a torn pectoral muscle. With Houston suffering a fracture, he may also miss the rest of the year.

Despite the Eagles expressing interest in re-signing Gardner-Johnson this offseason, he ended up with the Lions on a surprising deal. Gardner-Johnson, who denied a report of the Eagles submitting a multiyear offer, signed a one-year, $6.5MM deal. While players have landed big-ticket contracts despite season-ending injuries in the recent past — Allen Robinson, Bud Dupree and Dak Prescott are three of note — Gardner-Johnson was aiming to use this season as a trampoline toward a more lucrative pact. A surgery taking place would wound those aspirations. The Lions have exclusive negotiating rights with CJGJ until March of next year.

Houston’s injury will blunt some surprising early-career momentum. Houston went from sixth-round pick to Detroit’s practice squad, debuting on Thanksgiving Day. The Jackson State product managed to rack up eight sacks after that late start. He started one game for the Lions this season.

While it is not known if Gardner-Johnson and Houston are both done for the season, it obviously represents good news Vaitai avoided a serious injury. A back issue sidelined Vaitai throughout last season, leading to a pay cut. The former Eagles draftee also considered retirement this offseason. The Lions have Graham Glasgow back in place as insurance, and although Vaitai beat out the returning blocker for the RG post, Glasgow has been a starter for most of his career. While the Broncos released Glasgow to pick up cap space in March, he started 33 games for the team — at guard and center — from 2020-22. Glasgow, 30, has started 91 career contests.

Lions Fear C.J. Gardner-Johnson Sustained Torn Pectoral Muscle

The Lions could soon be without a key piece in their secondary. They fear C.J. Gardner-Johnson suffered a torn pectoral muscle, Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of report.

This would be a tough blow to Gardner-Johnson’s hopes of using this season as a platform to command a better contract in free agency. Gardner-Johnson signed a one-year, $6.5MM deal with the Lions in March, doing so after the Eagles had expressed interest in keeping him. Though, Gardner-Johnson said no firm offer came his way from the defending NFC champions.

Losing Gardner-Johnson would deliver a substantial blow to the Lions’ defense as well. The team struggled for most of last season defensively and loaded up on DB investments this year. Gardner-Johnson followed Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley to Detroit, and the team soon drafted Brian Branch in the second round. Branch and Gardner-Johnson offer similar skillsets, as safeties with extensive slot experience. The Lions began the season with Branch at nickel and CJGJ at safety.

A full tear would point to Gardner-Johnson missing the rest of the season. A strain or a partial tear keeps the door open for a return. Though, these reports generally do not bring good news for injured players, and the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers notes this “is not looking good” for Gardner-Johnson.

The fifth-year defender played 97% of Detroit’s defensive snaps in the overtime loss to Seattle. The team would have the option of moving Branch to safety. The Alabama product came off the draft board as this year’s top safety, though he played extensively at nickel in Nick Saban’s program. Branch also impressed at nickel this offseason, moving the Lions to scrap a rumored plan of returning Gardner-Johnson to nickel — his primary Saints spot — after he had moved to safety for the Eagles.

Detroit does have Tracy Walker, whom it re-signed in free agency last year, and Will Harris as experienced reserves. The Lions previously moved Harris from safety to corner, but Sutton and Jerry Jacobs operate as the team’s perimeter starters. Moseley, who is finishing up a recovery from an October 2022 ACL tear, has yet to debut for the Lions. Gardner-Johnson had joined Kerby Joseph as the team’s starting safeties, though Joseph missed Week 2.

Walker has made 37 career starts and re-signed with the Lions — on a three-year, $25MM deal in 2022. Walker, however, suffered a torn Achilles in Week 3 of last season. Losing his starting job upon returning, the sixth-year vet has played just nine defensive snaps this season.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson Addresses Eagles Exit; Buccaneers, Ravens Showed Interest

Despite multiple seasons as an upper-echelon slot cornerback and tying for the NFL lead with six interceptions in his first year as a full-time safety, C.J. Gardner-Johnson only scored a one-year deal worth $6.5MM this offseason. The Lions have the ex-Aaron Glenn Saints pupil as a rental of sorts.

This season will be about re-establishing value for Gardner-Johnson, and while the fifth-year DB expressed interest in staying in Detroit on a longer-term deal (via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett), he offered more information on his Philadelphia exit.

When Gardner-Johnson signed with the Lions, a report indicated the Eagles had made him a multiyear offer. Gardner-Johnson, 25, was said to have been angling for more money from the Eagles, who were rumored to be interested in retaining him. During an offseason in which the Eagles rebooted at both safety and linebacker, Gardner-Johnson said he was informed the team was going in a different direction. Rather than accept a Lions offer over an Eagles proposal, CJGJ insisted no firm Philly proposal came his way, Birkett adds.

Gardner-Johnson instead said someone in the Eagles’ front office told him the team was moving on. The timing here could be notable. The Eagles had discussed trading Darius Slay, and other teams showed interest in James Bradberry. Days into free agency, however, the Eagles regrouped with Slay — en route to an extension on March 16 — and had agreed to re-sign Bradberry two days earlier. While prioritizing their older corners, the defending NFC champions eventually let Gardner-Johnson walk. Gardner-Johnson’s Lions deal came to pass on March 19.

[My] DB coach even know why I was pissed off that whole week,” Gardner-Johnson said of his free agency stay. “I got the front office telling me they’re not going to pay me. And I’m not trying to think about money, I’m just trying to think about ball, but when you just throw a subliminal out of nowhere … ‘Play your hardest; we’re not going to pay you.’ … Well, all right, what does that come from?

Carrying understandable animosity toward the Eagles, Gardner-Johnson also said a Saints staffer told him he would not be in their plans at safety just before the team sent him home ahead of the August 2022 trade to the Eagles. Known as much for his instigation tactics as his play, the brash cover man also drew some level of interest from the Buccaneers and Ravens, Birkett adds. The Ravens hired ex-Eagles DBs coach Dennard Wilson, whom Sean Desai beat out for Philly’s DC gig.

Gardner-Johnson is set to begin his Lions season as a safety alongside Kerby Joseph. While rumors of the former fourth-round pick moving back to the slot under Glenn circulated in May, Brian Branch commandeered that job during training camp. The Lions infused their secondary with talent this offseason, one that also included additions of Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley.

Gardner-Johnson would be open to another Detroit deal but noted the team has other priorities ahead of him. Jared Goff is signed through 2024, but the team has engaged its quarterback in extension talks. Amon-Ra St. Brown‘s contract year also looms in 2024, while guard Jonah Jackson is going into a platform campaign this season. Jackson joins Goff in having talked to the Lions about a deal. Penei Sewell also stands to be in the Lions’ extension plans, though the right tackle can be controlled through 2025 via the fifth-year option, with Birkett adding cornerback Jerry Jacobs may be on the extension radar as well.

This year’s safety market did not take off for anyone except Jessie Bates, who signed a four-year, $64MM Falcons deal. No other safety scored even an $8MM-AAV pact, putting Gardner-Johnson in an interesting place with regards to a 2024 free agency bid. But he will attempt to use this season to command a nice guarantee on his third NFL contract.

Lions Notes: LBs, Gibbs, Branch

The Lions had two picks in the first round of the 2023 draft, and they used both of them on non-premium positions. Detroit selected running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the No. 12 overall pick and added inside linebacker Jack Campbell with the No. 18 selection.

As the first off-ball ‘backer taken in the draft, it was fair to expect that Campbell would immediately be inserted into the starting lineup alongside veteran Alex Anzalone, who signed a three-year, $18.75MM deal in March to remain with the Lions. However, it became clear that such an assumption was a bit premature. 2021 fourth-rounder Derrick Barnes impressed during OTAs, while Campbell acknowledged that he was perhaps trying to do too much in his first taste of the pros (via Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website).

“I came in and I felt like maybe I was pressing a little bit early on,” Campbell said yesterday. “But right now, I’m just trying to settle down. My personality type I like to make sure everything is perfect. I just need to understand that mistakes are going to happen and as long as I’m playing fast everything is going to work out.”

While Barnes has earned the starting job next to Anzalone, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn made it clear that the team’s top four LBs — a group that also includes 2022 sixth-rounder Malcolm Rodriguez — will see plenty of action. Campbell showed off his tackling ability in Detroit’s preseason slate, and given the club’s investment in him, it is certainly possible that his snap share will increase as the regular season unfolds.

Gibbs, meanwhile, split first-team training camp reps with free agent acquisition and former division rival David Montgomery and will start the year as the pass-catching complement to Montgomery (he will likely get his fair share of carries as well). Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson told reporters, including Twentyman, that, “we might use Gibbs in some ways that people don’t quite think we might,” though it’s unclear exactly what that means. Most are already expecting Gibbs to line up as a receiver, but perhaps he could line up as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation (or maybe, with the season set to kick off on Thursday against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, Johnson is simply engaging in a little misdirection).

Another rookie, Brian Branch, has secured the starting nickel corner job, per Twentyman. The second-round pick out of Alabama began taking first-team reps at the position after C.J. Gardner-Johnson suffered a knee injury early in training camp, and he immediately impressed. GM Brad Holmes, who engineered a trade-up to land Branch, said that the team had a first-round grade on the defensive back.

“He fits who we are, so you don’t know exactly how quick it’s going to turn on, but we’re not surprised that he’s making the plays because he’s doing, really a lot of the same things that he did at Alabama,” Holmes said.

Branch’s emergence will presumably allow the team to move Gardner-Johnson to safety, where he thrived with the Eagles in 2022.

Lions Eyeing Move To S For C.J. Gardner-Johnson; Brian Branch Receiving First-Team Reps

Expectations are high for the Lions’ defense in 2023 in large part due to the additions made in their secondary. Free agent signing C.J. Gardner-Johnson and rookie Brian Branch are among the new faces on the backend, and they could each find themselves in the starting lineup come Week 1.

Gardner-Johnson’s status as a first-teamer has not been in question, of course, after he posted six interceptions with the Eagles last year despite missing five games. The 25-year-old surprisingly only parlayed that into a one-year deal with $6.5MM guaranteed in free agency. His move to Detroit was expected to result in a return to his more familiar slot corner role (as opposed to the safety spot, where he spent most of his time in Philadelphia).

However, a knee injury Gardner-Johnson suffered early in training camp left him sidelined for a stretch. That opened the door to Branch filling in at the nickel spot, and his performances since then have him firmly in the mix for a starting role. The second-rounder has likely played his way into a first-team position, or at least notable rotational duties, as detailed by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Branch was lauded as one of the most versatile players in the 2023 class, but playing him at corner would open up the possibility of moving Gardner-Johnson back to safety.

Doing so would represent a change in approach compared to earlier in the offseason, but it could allow the Lions to deploy their ideal combination of defensive backs. Gardner-Johnson shifting back to safety would relegate Tracy Walker to backup duties while he rehabs the Achilles tear which ended his 2022 season. The latter had paired with 2022 third-rounder Kerby Joseph last year.

Head coach Dan Campbell recently noted that Walker is still in consideration for a starting position, however, so plenty is yet to be determined (aside from Joseph’s first-team certainty) as the preseason approaches. Branch will be a key player to watch during exhibition season as he looks to win a starting gig right away, something which would put the versatility of Detroit’s new and highly regarded secondary to the test early in the campaign.

NFC North Notes: Vikings, Lions, Savage

The Vikings have multiple departure candidates still on their roster. The Dalvin CookZa’Darius Smith holding patterns may persist, with’s Albert Breer noting the Vikes have informed other teams they are in good enough shape cap-wise to hold onto both veterans. This will be contingent on a bit more work being done, as OverTheCap credits the Vikings as holding $1.2MM in cap space. Cook is due $10.4MM in salary, and the Dolphins’ Devon Achane third-round pick complicates a previously discussed trade. The Vikings could take a Bengals path and prepare for a pay-cut ask, but we have not heard that is in the works yet. Smith, who asked to be cut earlier this year, is tied to a $9.45MM base. The Vikes have he, Danielle Hunter and UFA addition Marcus Davenport in the fold. The Vikings remain open to moving either player, though Breer adds they might need to pick up part of each’s salary — similar to how the Bears proceeded with their Robert Quinn trade last year — to make such a move worthwhile in terms of compensation.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • Between free agency and the draft, the Lions have revamped their secondary. Detroit signed Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson before drafting versatile DB Brian Branch in Round 2. The Eagles had moved Gardner-Johnson to safety last season, but he primarily played slot corner under Aaron Glenn in New Orleans. The Lions DC is planning to use CJGJ frequently in the slot this season, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News notes. It will be interesting to see how the Lions manage the workloads for Gardner-Johnson and Branch, considering both have experience — albeit one of them at the college level only — of working in the slot and as a safety.
  • In the wake of the NFL’s gambling investigation producing four Lions suspensions, the team released recently re-signed special-teamer C.J. Moore and wideout Quintez Cephus. Those two were not the only Lions employees dismissed as part of their involvement in this scandal. The team also fired staffers, and Breer adds a strength and conditioning coach and two equipment managers were let go. Receivers Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill were also suspended, but they are still with the team.
  • The Packers moved some money around in Darnell Savage‘s contract recently, and Field Yates of indicates the restructure created $5.5MM in cap space (Twitter link). Savage is attached to a fifth-year option salary in 2023. The Packers converted $4MM of Savage’s option salary into a signing bonus and tacked on four void years to the former first-round safety’s deal, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky tweets. If the Packers do not re-sign Savage before the 2024 league year begins, they will be hit with $5.5MM in dead money due to the void years now on this contract. The Packers, who absorbed a record-tying $40MM in dead money by trading Aaron Rodgers last week, are still near the top of the league in cap space. They hold just more than $17MM in room as May begins.

Contract Details: CJGJ, Hardman, Cowboys

Here are some of the details on a few deals reached around the league recently:

  • C.J. Gardner-Johnson, S (Lions): One year, $6.5MM. The deal, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2, is completely guaranteed with a signing bonus of $4MM and a fully guaranteed base salary of $2.5MM. The contract also includes a second, void year to spread out his cap hit. Gardner-Johnson can earn an additional $1.5MM based on incentives. There’s a potential for him to make $375,000 each for playing 70-percent of the team’s defensive snaps and/or intercepting three passes. He can make an additional $375,000 each for upping those numbers to 80% and five interceptions. Unfortunately, these potential bonuses are conditional. Even if he checks all those boxes, Gardner-Johnson will reportedly only receive his money if the Lions are in the top 16 in the league for yards allowed.
  • Mecole Hardman, WR (Jets): One year, $4.5MM. We’ve already reported some details of Hardman’s new contract. Thanks to Wilson, we have a bit more information on the incentives of the deal. Depending on receptions, Hardman can earn $125,000 if he catches 50 passes or more, $250,000 for 60, and $500,000 for 70. For yards, Hardman can receive $125,000 for 650 receiving yards or more, $250,000 for 750, and $500,000 for 850. For touchdowns, Hardman can earn $125,000 for catching six touchdowns, $250,000 for eight, and $500,000 for 10. Lastly, Hardman can receive $250,000 for a wild card win or bye, $250,000 for a divisional round win, $250,000 for a conference championship, and $250,000 for a Super Bowl win. In total, that makes $2.5MM available through incentives. The Jets are expecting big things out of Hardman, as he would’ve only earned the bottom level of each incentive once over his four-year career with the Chiefs.
  • Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB (Titans): One year, $3.5MM. The deal, according to Wilson, is fully guaranteed with a signing bonus of $2.42MM and a base salary of $1.08MM. The contract includes two void years to spread out his cap impact. Wilson reports $1.5MM-worth of incentives for Murphy-Bunting based on playing time and interceptions.
  • Dante Fowler, DE (Cowboys): One year, $3MM. The contract, according to Wilson, has a guaranteed amount of $1MM consisting of his signing bonus. All of Fowler’s incentives are contingent on Dallas making the playoffs. If they do and Fowler tallies eight sacks, he can earn an additional $500,000. Ten sacks gives Fowler $1MM. If Fowler plays over 55-percent of the team’s defensive snaps (and they make the playoffs), he can make an additional $250,000.

Lions To Sign DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson

The Lions have added a huge piece to their secondary tonight, agreeing to a new deal to bring in former Saints and Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The contract is reportedly a one-year, $8MM deal with $6.5MM fully guaranteed at signing.

Gardner-Johnson was a versatile defensive back out of Florida, playing at both nickel and safety for the Gators. The Saints selected him in the fourth round, and despite his status as a later round pick, it didn’t take long for Gardner-Johnson to make an impact. He was starting and performing a crucial role on the Saints’ defense by Week 7 of his rookie year. He became a full-time starter in New Orleans after that.

Gardner-Johnson’s ball skills seemed to improve every year. After a rookie season that saw him intercept one pass and break up eight, he improved that in 2020 with one interception and 13 passes defensed. In his final year as a Saint, Gardner-Johnson converted some of those pass breakups into picks, recording three interceptions and seven passes defensed. After being traded to the Eagles days before the season started, Gardner-Johnson became an immediate starter and led the NFL with six interceptions while adding eight passes defensed.

The Lions have made some strong moves to improve a defense that ranked fourth in points allowed while allowing the most yards in the NFL last year. This included allowing the third-most passing yards and the fourth-most rushing yards in the league. While allowing cornerback Mike Hughes and safety DeShon Elliott to walk in free agency, Detroit has reloaded, bringing in former Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton, former 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, and Gardner-Johnson.

How Gardner-Johnson ended up in Detroit is a common example of gambling in free agency. According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eagles offered Gardner-Johnson a multi-year contract early in the free agency period. Gardner-Johnson and his agent turned the offer down as they were seeking a higher value. Philadelphia moved past the rejection and signed James Bradberry while extending Darius Slay. This also seems to explain why Gardner-Johnson ended up with only a one-year deal. Apparently unhappy with any of the long-term deals he was presented, Gardner-Johnson opted for a one-year “prove it” deal that would allow him to increase his value for next year’s free agency.

Gardner-Johnson’s arrival in Detroit will be a reunion with head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Both were in New Orleans at the same time, with Glenn coaching his position group with the Saints. So not only did the Lions get one of the top-remaining free agents available, they also signed one they were very familiar with.

Broncos Interested In C.J. Gardner-Johnson

Sean Payton‘s first free agency period in Denver has produced a few big-ticket signings. The former Saints coach is now looking into one of his former players for what would be a fourth major move as Broncos HC.

The Broncos are one of the teams interested in C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 reports (on Twitter). The Eagles wanted to retain the fifth-year defensive back ahead of free agency, but he hit the market and is fielding interest.

Philadelphia has managed to bring back longtime defensive stalwarts Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, along with James Bradberry. Late Wednesday night, they pumped the breaks on cutting Darius Slay as well. Slay’s monster cap number ($26.1MM) is still on Philly’s payroll. Until a new number surfaces, the contract-year cornerback’s status will remain in question. But these moves could impact the Eagles’ aim to re-sign Gardner-Johnson.

The Eagles traded for Gardner-Johnson just before last season, acquiring the ex-Saints slot cornerback and moving him to safety. Gardner-Johnson proceeded to tie for the NFL interceptions lead, notching six thefts despite missing five games. The Eagles are understandably keen on ensuring the 2022 trade investment does not bolt after one season. The team has lost its other starting safety, Marcus Epps, along with Javon Hargrave, T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White from its Super Bowl LVII-qualifying defense.

Payton coached Gardner-Johnson for three seasons, stationing the renowned trash talker in the slot. Gardner-Johnson functioned as New Orleans’ primary slot defender for multiple seasons. Months after Payton’s New Orleans exit, the former fourth-round pick could not come to terms with the Saints on an extension. That led to the trade. CJGJ will not come cheap, being one of the top options left available. He will not turn 26 until December.

Denver’s most lucrative defensive contract resides at Gardner-Johnson’s position, with Justin Simmons being the league’s sixth-highest-paid safety. Simmons, who also missed five games last season, shared the 2022 INT lead with Gardner-Johnson. The Broncos have not re-signed Kareem Jackson, a three-year starter for the team but a player who is going into his age-35 season, and have used 2021 draftee Caden Sterns as their backup. Veteran K’Waun Williams remains under contract for the Broncos in the slot.