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Eagles agree to terms with C.J. Gardner-Johnson on a 3-year contract

C.J. Gardner-Johnson
C.J. Gardner-Johnson

It was February 8, 2023, inside the ballroom at the Eagles' team hotel in Phoenix, just days before Super Bowl LVII.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson was sitting at a roundtable, explaining why he had camera equipment to capture all of the week's experiences. He understood that moments like these are few and far between and that this was something he was going to show his children when they were older.

The Eagles came up just three points short in that epic Super Bowl, falling to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gardner-Johnson, acquired in a trade with New Orleans just before the start of the 2022 season, was a free agent after the championship game. Unfortunately, Gardner-Johnson signed with the Detroit Lions.

One year later, the Eagles and Gardner-Johnson made a reunion happen, as the two sides agreed to a three-year deal on Thursday.

"I felt love when I first got here," Gardner-Johnson said in an interview with Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro during that 2022 campaign. The feeling was certainly mutual.

Gardner-Johnson offered playmaking ability from the back end of the defense, notching six interceptions in the first nine games of the 2022 season as the Eagles raced out to a league-best 8-1 record. A lacerated kidney sidelined Gardner-Johnson for five-plus games. Otherwise, he would have been well on his way to Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career. Even with the missed time, Gardner-Johnson tied for the league lead in picks. He also tallied a career-high 67 tackles.

More than playmaking ability, Gardner-Johnson brought a swagger, an edge to the defense.

"Honestly, I like being physical," Gardner-Johnson said. "Growing up watching Sean Taylor, Ed Reed, and really watching the old Florida Gators really made me want to be physical. Yeah, like my Ahmad Black, Major Wright. That was really my first glimpse because I went to the spring game. And that's when I was like, 'OK, I want to be a physical football player, somebody who can knock somebody's head off!'"

Gardner-Johnson's impact in Detroit this past season wasn't felt until the postseason. A pectoral injury limited him to three regular-season games, but he was full-go in the playoffs with 12 tackles, an interception, and a pass deflection as the Lions came oh-so-close to the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance.

The 5-foot-11, 208-pound Gardner-Johnson spent the first three seasons of his career with the New Orleans Saints after being selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Florida. He was primarily a slot cornerback before transitioning to the safety spot the past two seasons. That versatility will be appreciated in Vic Fangio's scheme as the Eagles retool their defense to fit the vision of the new defensive coordinator.

Get your first look at the 2024 Eagles additions. While they may be sporting different colors now, these players will be wearing Eagles jerseys in 2024!

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