Eagles made surprising decision about CJ Gardner-Johnson
The Philadelphia Eagles let safety CJ Gardner-Johnson walk to the Detroit Lions, and apparently that was a conscious choice on their part.
Gardner-Johnson initially turned down a three-year contract offer from the Eagles, believing he could do better on the open market. That did not really come to pass, and Gardner-Johnson had to settle for a one-year deal with Detroit.
Notably, according to Jim Trotter of NFL.com, the Eagles were given the chance to match the Lions’ offer, but chose not to.
What’s really surprising about the Eagles offering Gardner-Johnson a backloaded, three-year, max $24M deal that included $17M+ in Year 3, but that they also declined to match the one-year deal the Lions offered, per source.
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) March 20, 2023
The Eagles initially wanted Gardner-Johnson back, but when he turned down their initial offer, they had no choice to move on. At that point, cornerback Darius Slay’s Eagles career looked over, but he wound up signing a new contract with Philadelphia days later.
In other words, it certainly appears that Gardner-Johnson’s decision to initially reject the Eagles freed up extra money that they used to re-sign Slay and fellow defensive back James Bradberry. When Gardner-Johnson came back to them with the chance to match the Lions’ $8 million offer, that money had already been spent.
Philadelphia’s loss is the Lions’ gain. Gardner-Johnson, coming off a season that saw him tally six interceptions in 12 games, will get the chance to hit the open market again next offseason.