Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

Saints’ C.J. Gardner-Johnson Attempting To Secure New Deal

The Saints’ defensive back equation includes two new safeties, has two recent Day 2 draftees and is anchored by perennial Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore. But a former fourth-round pick is set to carry a substantial workload.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson is on track to reprise his role as New Orleans’ slot cornerback, a job at which he has become one of the game’s best. The fourth-year veteran is entering his contract season, and he looks to be joining the hold-in trend. Gardner-Johnson is reducing his training camp workload as he aims to secure a new deal, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football reports (on Twitter). This move comes after Gardner-Johnson stayed away from the Saints’ voluntary offseason workouts.

It is not clear by how much Gardner-Johnson will tamp down his practice work, but players have laid out the hold-in game plan since the 2020 CBA made holding out much more difficult. Derwin James, Diontae Johnson and Roquan Smith are staging hold-in efforts, while D.K. Metcalf and Deebo Samuel began their respective training camps doing so. Metcalf and Samuel’s efforts resulted in quick extensions. The other three players here have not been rewarded yet. In Johnson’s case, it is unclear if the team plans to do so.

Gardner-Johnson, whom Pro Football Focus rated as the NFL’s No. 5 slot corner, played 626 defensive snaps last season. A midseason foot injury led to an IR stay, but the plus defender/high-end trash talker returned to help New Orleans’ finish — one that included a Week 15 shutout win in Tampa. Gardner-Johnson’s 24 plays on the ball from the slot lead the league since 2019, when the Florida alum entered the league. He finished with a career-high three interceptions in 2021 and posted a career-best mark in passer rating allowed as the closest defender, holding quarterbacks to a collective 67.7 mark.

The Saints have some notable cash allocated to their secondary, which includes a few veteran contracts. However, only Lattimore — at $19.4MM per year — is tied to a big-ticket deal. Both Tyrann Mathieu and Bradley Roby are attached to mid-tier accords at their respective positions.

Slot corners also are not presently expensive. Gardner-Johnson’s decision follows Kenny Moore lobbying for a raise earlier this offseason. While Moore is participating fully in Colts camp, the Pro Bowl slot and Indianapolis are not close on terms. Slot players are still maxing out below the eight-figure-per-year mark. It would seem that status will change soon, with Moore’s contract year coming in 2023. But Gardner-Johnson could get there first, depending on how the Saints value his skillset.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/11/21

Here is how teams finalized their Week 14 rosters:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/8/21

Today’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Designated for return: G D’Ante Smith, CB Trae Waynes

Denver Broncos

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Washington Football Team

Injury Notes: Fields, Saints, Seahawks

It sounds like Andy Dalton will be back in the lineup for the Bears on Thursday night. The veteran quarterback is expected to get the start for Chicago later this week, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).

Rookie Justin Fields is currently dealing with a rib injury, thrusting Dalton back into the starting lineup. The 34-year-old has barely seen the field since starting Chicago’s first two games. Since then, Dalton has appeared in two contests, completing 12 of his 24 pass attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

Fortunately, it sounds like it’s more of a timing thing for Fields than anything else. The rookie spent the day undergoing more testing on his rib injury, but the turnaround time will ultimately keep Fields out of the lineup. Rapoport adds that the young QB has “been making major strides,” and it sounds like he’ll be back for the Bears before long. Fields has started eight of his 10 games this season, throwing four touchdowns vs. eight interceptions.

More injury notes from around the NFL:

  • Saints tight end Adam Trautman had a career day yesterday, but it came at a cost. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that Trautman suffered a sprained MCL that will keep him sidelined for the next four to six weeks. Presumably, the former third-round pick will end up seeing a stint on the injured reserve. Trautman had a standout game on Sunday against the Eagles, finishing with five catches for 58 yards and one touchdown.
  • Saints defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson landed on injured reserve a few weeks back, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be sidelined for much more than the three required weeks. Rapoport tweets that Garden-Johnson’s expected recovery time from his foot injury is only three to four weeks. The 23-year-old started each of the Saints first seven games this season.
  • Saints quarterback Jameis Winston underwent surgery on his ACL earlier this month, but ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets that the procedure “did not include an MCL repair.” While there was damage to the MCL, doctors believe the ligament was still strong enough to heal on its own.
  • Seahawks rookie cornerback Tre Brown is likely done for the season, as Pete Carroll acknowledged that Brown will likely require season-ending knee surgery. “This is just the day after and it looks like surgery is imminent,” Carroll said (h/t Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “Yeah, so he would be [done for the year].” The fourth-round pick has gotten into five games (three starts) this season, collecting 10 tackles and one pass defended.

Saints Move Chauncey Gardner-Johnson To IR, Activate Ken Crawley

The Saints will be without one of their secondary starters for a stretch. They placed Chauncey Gardner-Johnson on IR. The young defensive back is down with a foot injury.

Although Gardner-Johnson may be known more for inducing punches from wide receivers at this point in his career, the third-year defender has been a key presence in New Orleans’ veteran-laden secondary. The former fourth-round pick has started seven games for the Saints this season, working in multiple capacities — including the slot position.

Gardner-Johnson has made 26 tackles, one sack and an interception this season. The Saints have fellow corner/safety hybrid P.J. Williams capable of manning the slot as well, and the team activated veteran Ken Crawley off injured reserve Saturday.

Crawley has been with the Saints for most of his career, beginning with the team in 2016, but has played just one game this season. In addition to his IR stay, Crawley spent two weeks on the Saints’ reserve/COVID-19 list.

New Orleans also promoted wide receiver Kevin White from its practice squad and waived defensive lineman Christian Ringo. The team also promoted offensive lineman Will Clapp ahead of its Week 10 matchup with Tennessee. The Saints are set to be without left tackle Terron Armstead against the Titans.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/8/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves right here:

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/30/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Baltimore Ravens

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: K Sam Koch

Cleveland Browns

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: C Ryan Groy; Groy remains on IR

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saints Rumors: Gardner-Johnson, Jenkins

The Saints didn’t hold any sort of offseason program (not even a virtual session), and the club doesn’t plan to get together again until training camp. Speaking on a conference call with reporters, defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said New Orleans coaches will continue to work from home and won’t convene until training camp begins, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. The NFL is now allowing teams to have coaches inside facilities, but the Saints won’t take advantage of that league decision.

Here’s more on the Saints:

  • Second-year New Orleans safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson will spend a “good amount of time” covering the slot in 2020, as Saints defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn tells Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football (Twitter link). A fourth-round pick out of Florida, Gardner-Johnson played 807 snaps during his rookie campaign, with 290 of those reps coming in the slot. Those slot snaps were second on the club to only cornerback P.J. Williams, who remains on the roster but could potentially see a reduced role. Pro Football Focus graded Gardner-Johnson as the No. 37 safety among 99 qualifiers in 2020.
  • Including the postseason, veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins played in only 3 games with the Saints in 2019 after being acquired off waivers from the Giants. But that was enough time for New Orleans to decide to retain him. “Certainly there’s an overall body of work that you utilize to try to form opinions about what a guy can do or can’t do,” Allen tells Luke Johnson of NOLA.com. “But there’s nothing like the experience of having a guy in your building. I can tell you just from my experience with him in that brief period of time.” In March, Jenkins agreed to an extension that will keep him with the Saints through 2022.
  • In case you missed it, the Saints had interest in signing Tom Brady had Drew Brees opted to retire.

Saints Sign Entire Draft Class

That’s a wrap! On Friday, the Saints announced that they have signed their entire draft class:

All players will receive four-year deals. But, naturally, McCoy gets the biggest payout of the bunch. His draft slot at No. 48 overall gives him almost $6.1MM in total, with a signing bonus of nearly $2.5MM.

McCoy spent three years as the Aggies’ starting center, but he also made a pair of starts at guard in 2017. With the Saints, McCoy is expected to compete for the starting center job, though he could theoretically see time at left or right guard.

The Saints had a condensed draft class this year, due in part to the two trades they made to land McCoy and Gardner-Johnson. Last year, Gardner-Johnson made 71 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, and came away with a team-high four interceptions. He already has a relationship with secondary coach Aaron Glenn and couldn’t be happier to be in New Orleans.

It’s the best all around team from top to bottom, offense and defense,”Gardner-Johnson said recently. “I’m just coming into a system where everything has a standard. I’m just going to come in and live up to that standard so everyone on the team and in the front office upstairs can be proud of me and say these guys are set.”

 

 

Jets Trade No. 105 To Saints

The Jets have acquired more picks. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the Jets have sent No. 105 to the Saints. New Orleans will send New York No. 116 and No. 168.

The Saints have used the selection on Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The rangy nickel defensive back was expected to be drafted on Day 2, so it’s understandable that the Saints traded up to acquire him.

New Orleans has Marcus Williams and Vonn Bell slotted in as their starting safeties. Gardner-Johnson is unlikely to push either player for a starting gig, but he should compete with Chris Banjo and J.T. Gray for backup reps.