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Chauncey Gardner-Johnson Credits Eagles for Maturation On and Off the Field

Still just 25, the Eagles safety said he is a better man and player since being acquired by Howie Roseman on Aug. 30
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PHOENIX – The start of the regular-season was still two weeks away when Eagles GM Howie Roseman pulled one last rabbit out of his hat, acquiring DB Chauncey-Gardner Johnson in a trade with the New Orleans Saints.

Gardner-Johnson arrived with a reputation as a talker, brash and confident, if not a bit immature.

It was one of the best off-season moves Roseman made.

It was also one of the best moves Gardner-Johnson could have imagined, and not because he will play in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I had to figure out who I was and what type of player I was going to be, so making sure I was doing everything right between the lines and off the field and at home so I could continue to get better as a man and a player,” he said earlier in the week

At 25, Gardner-Johnson understands he’s at a point in his life where he’s not a 22-year-old rookie anymore.

Philly, he said, taught him plenty about himself as a player and a person.

“You see who you really are,” he said. “You go from your younger age of 20 to the older side of the 20s, so you figure out who you are and what you need to do.

“I’m a football player, smart, physical, and one of the best safeties in the league. That’s how I feel, but I got better as a player and a person. I figured out how to interact outside of football. I learned how to engage differently with my teammates and my friends.”

Gardner-Johnson’s days with the Eagles could be down to one, and that is Sunday’s game.

He is a free agent and could command anywhere from $15 to $17 million per season and, at his age, it will be a multiyear contract.

He credited the DB room, Marcus Epps especially. Also, his coaches, including DB coach Dennard Wilson.

“When we acquired him, the first conversation I had with him was, ‘CJ, you’re coming here and you’re going to have fit in and you’re going to have to earn your keep, but still be who you are as a person and still be who you are as a player, but it’s about the team, it’s about the unity, it’s about the chemistry we have to create together to be able to play as one,’” said Wilson.

“It took him a while to get it, but once he figured it out, he started to prosper. His teammates love him, I think he’s maturing on and off the field. For me as a coach, he’s been a joy to have and just seeing his progression not only as a football player but as a man.”

Gardner-Johnson not only had to hit the ground running after being acquired on Aug. 30, but also switch from playing nickel cornerback to safety.

It wasn't until Week 5 that he notched his first interception, picking off Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and making 10 tackles in a 20-17 win. Then he had five more picks over the next four weeks.

“It took me a month or two to get right,” he said. “I didn’t practice at camp, so I was trying to get myself together and catch myself before I got behind the 8-ball.

“I’d get up early, watched film with coach, early morning meetings, trying to figure out the type of player I am and how I could help this team, then making adjustments as we go.”

Epps, who is also a free agent, helped Gardner-Johnson settle in.

Epps arrived in Philly halfway through his rookie season of 2019, after the Vikings released him to pick up Andrew Sendejo, who the Eagles had just cut.

So, the safety knew the challenge of arriving late to a team, the way CGJ did.

He remembers the help given to him by Eagles safeties at the time, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.

“I knew we would be back there playing together and as a safety tandem you need to be on the same page, especially in this defense,” said Epps about Gardner-Johnson. “I wanted to make sure he knew that whatever he needed help with I was there, and I was always going to make sure, as long we communicate on the field, we’d be good.

"Then, just helping him get lined up if he needed it, but he’s a smart football player and he caught on to things pretty fast.”

Ed Kracz is the publisher of’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at or and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.