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C.J. Gardner-Johnson Returns to Eagles, Has Some Explaining to Do to Fans

C.J Gardner-Johnson is back with the Philadelphia Eagles a year after he left and after some derogatory things to say about Philly fans.
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PHILADELPHIA – Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s one-year sabbatical in Detroit is over. He’s coming back to the Philadelphia Eagles and he’s going to stick around longer than one year, like the last time, after he agreed to terms on a three-year deal worth $33 million.

It’s exactly the kind of security CJGJ wanted last year when he bolted for the Lions in free agency. The Eagles wanted him then, but couldn’t get a deal done, so Gardner-Johnson left and left a seemingly bitter man.

At least toward the Eagles’ fan base.

During a live stream on Twitch last July, he was asked by a viewer what his favorite and least favorite part of his time in Philadelphia. He pulled no punches. In fact, he threw plenty of haymakers in a short answer.

"My least favorite thing ... is the people," Gardner-Johnson said. "They’re (bleeping) obnoxious, I (bleeping) can’t stand the (bleepers).


Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

C.J, Gardner-Johnson

He will have some explaining to do whenever he meets with reporters. That is provided he does meet with reporters. Gardner-Johnson didn’t talk much in the locker room or after games during his one year on the team.

He let his play do most of the talking, and Gardner-Johnson is exactly the kind of playmaker this defense was missing last year.

He tied for the league lead with six interceptions in 2022 with seven despite missing five games after lacerating a kidney during a game against the Green Bay Packers. It was also that game when safety Reed Blankenship stepped in, intercepted Aaron Rodgers, and made such a strong impression that the Eagles named him a starter last year.

CJGJ arrived in Philly the first time via a trade with the New Orleans Saints just before the start of the 2022 season and was a key cog in the Eagles’ run to Super Bowl LVII.

It was the Saints who picked him in the fourth round of the 2019 draft.

He has 12 career interceptions, with at least one in every one of his career NFL seasons. Even last year he picked off one pass despite a torn pectoral muscle that limited him to just three regular-season games.

He returned for the season finale and then played in all three of the Lions’ playoff games, recording an interception in the Divisional round win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that landed Detroit in the NFC title game.

That kind of playmaking ability could lead Eagles fans to forgive him for his vile words. Or not.

Gardner-Johnson is the fifth free agent the Eagles have agreed to sign – and third on the defensive side of the ball - when free agency begins on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

The others are pass-rusher Bryce Huff, linebacker Zack Baun, running back Saquon Barkley, and receiver DeVante Parker.