Lemieux has been out since September 2021. A severe knee injury paused Lemieux’s career, sidelining him after he had commandeered a starting job. The Giants drafted Lemieux in the 2020 fifth round and turned to him as a starter for much of his rookie season. But the team’s new regime addressed the interior line extensively this offseason, signing Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano before drafting Joshua Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan.
The Giants, however, lost McKethan for the season and are without starting left guard Ben Bredeson. The team having Lemieux and former center starter Nick Gates, who also battled back from a severe injury, back will provide some options for Brian Daboll up front. Bredeson, whom the team placed on IR last week, will be a candidate to be one of Big Blue’s injury activations later this season.
The Saints are trading one of their top defensive backs to the Eagles. C.J. Gardner-Johnson is heading to Philadelphia, according to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The teams have since announced the deal.
It did not take too much in the way of compensation for this trade to go down. The Eagles are sending a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth to the Saints for Gardner-Johnson and a 2025 seventh, Pelissero tweets. The 2024 sixth will be the lower of the Eagles’ two selections in that round.
The Eagles actually see Gardner-Johnson as a safety, Pelissero tweets. He will pair with Marcus Epps, who finished a strong training camp, at the position. A report earlier this month indicated the Eagles could acquire a safety, but Gardner-Johnson has largely excelled in the slot prior to this trade.
This will make for an interesting transition for the fourth-year veteran, especially coming in a contract year. Safety, however, as the Jamal Adams, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James deals have shown, has proven to be a more lucrative position than slot corner.
Tuesday’s deal also marks the third splash trade for the Eagles this offseason; the Saints have now been involved in two of those moves. This trade comes after the move to acquire A.J. Brown and the deal to land a future first-rounder from the Saints. No word about a potential Gardner-Johnson extension has come down. The Eagles could wait here, but Jalen Hurts‘ rookie contract also offers some flexibility. The team also has no notable cash tied to the safety position, having just releasedAnthony Harris.
While Pro Football Focus has rated Gardner-Johnson outside the top 50 at cornerback in each of the past two years, he carved out a regular role amongst a veteran Saints DB corps. The former fourth-round pick has also become known for his ability to rile up opposition — both opponents and teammates, considering Michael Thomas‘ 2020 team-imposed suspension came after he threw a punch at Gardner-Johnson. It will be interesting to see how he fares in Philly.
The Saints have assembled a deep secondary in recent years, and NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan tweets rookie Alontae Taylor is one of the players — along with Bradley Roby and former slot P.J. Williams — who have worked inside replacing Gardner-Johnson during camp. The team also already has a big-ticket cornerback deal (Marshon Lattimore) in a secondary that also now includes Tyrann Mathieu‘s $9MM-AAV deal.
Williams has never been a Pro Football Focus darling, but the Saints are fans of his work. This marks his third straight one-year re-up and yet another chance for him to improve his leverage. Last time around, Williams scored a fully guaranteed one-year, $2.3MM deal, up from his $2MM pact in 2020.
The Saints drafted him in the third-round back in 2015, and he’s been with the team ever since. A torn hamstring cost him his entire rookie season, and a serious head injury limited him to only two games in 2016. Fortunately, he’s been able to play in at least 14 games in each of the past five seasons. He’s not a world beater, but he is versatile with extensive experience at both safety and cornerback.
As Williams returns, the Saints will also welcome a new defender in ex-Texans defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.
March 18th, 2021 at 2:14pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Saints might be in a bad cap spot, but that isn’t stopping them from bringing back a lot of their own guys. New Orleans has reached an agreement to re-sign defensive back P.J. Williams, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.
The deal is for one year and worth $2.3MM, which is fully guaranteed, Rapoport writes. He signed a similar one-year, $2MM deal last offseason. The Saints drafted him in the third-round back in 2015, and he’s been with the team ever since. A torn hamstring cost him his entire rookie season, and a serious head injury limited him to only two games in 2016.
After playing in just two games through his first two seasons, he’s now played in at least 14 each of the past four seasons. He’s been a part-time starter each year, playing at various spots in the defense. Williams is versatile and has extensive experience at both safety and cornerback.
This past season he started three games and played about 48 percent of the defensive snaps. The Florida State product had 40 tackles, two passes defended, two fumble recoveries, and an interception.
Though he was once considered a first-round talent, Williams slipped to the third round of the 2015 draft, perhaps due to a DUI arrest shortly before that draft. He was arrested for DUI again in January 2019, which led to a two-game suspension last season. But on the field, Williams has finally found his niche as a slot corner.
He has never been a darling of the advanced metrics, but he has continued to play a critical role in the Saints’ secondary. His work as a nickel back certainly passes the eye test, even if sites like Pro Football Focus don’t love him, and he also brings valuable positional versatility.
As Underhill points out, the Saints have very little boundary CB depth behind Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore, and while Williams won’t win any awards for his work outside the numbers, he represents a marked improvement over players like Patrick Robinson in that regard. And even though New Orleans certainly hopes Williams won’t need to play a ton of snaps at safety in 2020, he performed very well at that position last year as an injury replacement.
Williams, who is particularly effective as a tackler and against the run, has four interceptions and 24 passes defensed in his career.
The Saints will have to make an adjustment in their secondary. P.J. Williams will be suspended for the next two New Orleans games for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
Working as New Orleans’ primary slot cornerback, Williams has started five games in his fifth season with the franchise. The veteran defender was arrested for DUI in January and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in August. He nonetheless re-signed with the Saints this offseason.
This figures to open the door for Patrick Robinson to get his job back. The Saints signed their former first-round pick to a four-year, $20MM deal in 2018. After he missed most of the 2018 season with an injury, Robinson has played just seven snaps for the 5-1 team.
Williams has graded as the worst of the three Saints primary corners, in the view of Pro Football Focus, which slots him at No. 64 at this position. He has played 314 defensive snaps. The 26-year-old defender, a former third-round Saints pick, has recorded 18 tackles and a sack this season.
Saints cornerback P.J. Williamspleaded guilty today to a reduced charge of reckless operation of a motor vehicle following a drunk driving arrest in January, as Ramon Antonio Vargas of NOLA.com reports. Williams will be required to pay a $340 fine but will not face any other legal consequences. All related charges were dismissed.
Of course, the resolution of Williams’ legal issues is just one hurdle. The NFL can still impose discipline, and given the circumstances of the arrest, Williams may very well face a suspension. Before effecting the traffic stop, officers say they observed Williams driving 80 mph in a 50-mph zone and weaving across lanes without using his turn signals. Williams subsequently refused a Breathalyzer test, leading to his arrest.
The Saints selected Williams in the third round of the 2015 draft, and he may have lasted until the third round because of a previous DUI arrest in early April 2015. Those charges were dropped just before the draft.
New Orleans re-signed the Florida State product to a one-year, $5MM pact in April, and he is slated to once again have a significant role in the Saints’ secondary. Though he finished as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-worst CB in 2018, he played 810 snaps for the NFC’s No. 1 seed last year, and he remains near the top of the club’s cornerback depth chart.