According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston, he is reporting that the Denver Broncos are among the teams who are interested in safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
He is likely the top remaining free agent on the market and would be an excellent addition to the Denver Broncos’ defense.
#Broncos among the teams with interest in #Eagles free agent C.J. Gardner Johnson, per a league source @KPRC2— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 16, 2023
Gardner-Johnson is a 5’11’, 210-pound safety who is entering his 5th year in the NFL and is only 25 years old. This past season, he was a key member of the Philadelphia Eagles defense that made it to the Super Bowl. However, he did start his career in New Orleans as a second pick by Sean Payton, who is now the head coach in Denver with the Broncos. We have seen how having that connection has led to many coaches and now players reuniting with him in Denver.
Back in late August, when the Saints traded Gardner-Johnson, Sean Payton was rather critical of the trade. He said that the trade was a “steal” and that he has no idea why the Saints traded him to Philadelphia.
Gardner-Johnson is a playmaking safety who also can play multiple positions including the slot. The Broncos currently have a vacancy in their secondary with Kareem Jackson being a free agent, so there is room for Gardner-Johnson in the Broncos secondary.
A secondary that includes Justin Simmons, Patrick Surtain II, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson is pretty damn good. That is not including up-and-coming players like cornerback Damarri Mathis and fellow safety Caden Sterns.
During Gardner-Johnson’s four year career with the Saints and Eagles, he has totaled 228 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, 11 interceptions, 36 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble. This past season for the Eagles, he totaled 67 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 2 quarterback hits, 1 sack, a career-high 6 interceptions, and 8 pass deflections.
Adding a ball-hawking safety who was the Saints primary slot-defender during his time there. He was used at free safety primarily with the Eagles, but he thrived in both roles. He is a versatile defender who can instantly improve the Broncos defense if signed.
Personally, he was one of my favorite free agents available, but did not think the Broncos would have a chance to get him with their other needs. I, and many others, were obviously wrong since the Walter/Penner ownership group has allowed them to go on a spending spree. So, why not continue and get a top ball-hawking defensive back to add to your secondary? It is a no-brainer in my opinion and the Sean Payton connection only helps.
Also, for those who do care. Internet sleuths like myself noticed that C.J. Gardner-Johnson followed a bunch of Broncos players, including Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, and Patrick Surtain as well as the Broncos official Instagram account. That is usually a sign a player is about to join a team, so it sent Broncos twitter into a tizzy. He eventually did unfollow the Broncos IG, but we shall if there was any significance to that.