The Eagles surprised everyone earlier this week when they cut Anthony Harris and followed that up by trading Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Although there are some pitfalls involved in his transition from the nickel back corner to the safety, Howie Roseman has done a great job getting a talented player in a position he needs for relatively cheap.
In order to find out more about Philly’s new defensive linebacker, I thought it would be of use to Bleeding Green Nation readers to get some insight into him. And so I called Chris Daniels From Canal Street Crohn’scles. Here’s what the actor said from SB Nation’s New Orleans Saints blog.
1 – What is the reaction of saints lovers to this trade? And what degree of craftsmanship would it give from a New Orleans perspective?
I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of Saints fans are not happy with this trade. The emotional side of football and the general relationship of the fans to some players often causes the fans to mislead the objective views of these players. CJ Gardner-Johnson quickly made himself darling with Saints fans for high-energy play from a nickel slot/corner position and superior confidence. He launched a modern meme culture in Who Dat Nation due to his sweet talk both in the field and off on social media.
Admittedly, the trade compensation is lower than I originally expected. In giving the Saints’ front office a bit of the benefit of the doubt and compiling the various stories from the local media, it appears that the Saints were in a position where they would be forced to trade in the talented and young corner. But the problem was that Gardner-Johnson wanted it to be paid as a first-class safety, not just as a nickel angle. When the saints indicated that they would not pay him “at the highest level of safety”, he – according to reports – participated in the training camp mainly in physical presence only. He refused to get training and was still waiting for the new contract he thought he deserved. In light of the commercial compensation heading to the Saints’ Way from Philadelphia, I have to believe that, like the Saints, there weren’t many teams in the NFL who were willing to offer the kind of contract that Gardner Johnson was demanding. This meant that the Saints would have to take practically anything they could get from a team willing to pay for Gardner-Johnson’s services.
I still put an equal error in Saints’ front desk for allowing this point to be reached in the first place, so I’m giving the deal C+. Ideally, the Saints would have been able to work with Gardner-Johnson to play last year on his contract, but that didn’t happen. Opportunity cost obviously plays a role in this as well, however, we’re likely to look at this trade differently depending on the new Gardner-Johnson contract and what the two picks the Saints receive in this trade will end up.
2 – How would you sum up CJGJ’s time with the saints?
“High energy” is a phrase I will keep coming back to. Like most defensive tackles in the NFL, if an opposing receiver catches him, he’s quick to turn the matter down to factors that have nothing to do with his coverage. But if the recipient doesn’t catch the ball for any reason, even because of something like a knockdown, CJGJ will jump in and celebrate, and his teammates can feed that energy. He won’t shy away from getting into the faces of opposing recipients (check out the Javon Wims incident from the year 2020 post-season) or even the faces of opposing quarterbacks (the CJ meme staring at Tom Brady is priceless).
3 – What are its strengths? And do you think this helps him well in his transition to safety?
4 – What are its weaknesses?
I will answer strengths and weaknesses together.
This energy that I described above is his strength. Combined with his ability to play good but not great cover and to be a decent but not great player, this makes him better suited to gambling as he can use his physicality to press and guard the future of the hole or the tight ends of the line.
Can he transition to security full time? I’m not sure.
He is below average in coverage and is often fooled by the eyes of the opposing midfielder. He often has to rely on his speed and athletic style (unofficial 4.48 40 times) to make up for the gaps in coverage. Free safety probably isn’t his forte. It is more suitable for a strong security role. But I think the most telling point about CJ’s long-term safety potential is the series of moves the Saints have made in this off season.
The Saints have lost both of their starting secretariats this off-season, with Marcus Williams joining Baltimore Ravens In free agency, our mutual friend Malcolm Jenkins is suspended in retirement. Even with this, and knowing that CJ had been in the organization for the past few years, the Saints decided to bring in two external veterans as safety initially in Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu rather than trust Garnder-Johnson to deal with either of them right away. On a full-time basis.
Saints’ front desk has been above average in crafting and developing defenses over the past decade. Marcus Williams, Marshawn Lattimore, Von Bell, CJ Gardner Johnson, BJ Williams, Paulson Adepo… Aside from Lattimore, who was the New Defensive Future of the Year, none of these players made the first round. If there’s one situation where I tend to give the Division of Saints’ Scouts the edge of the doubt, it’s with a defensive appearance. If the Saints didn’t see Gardner Johnson capable of being a full-time safe, it’s entirely possible that they were wrong, but the smart money says they aren’t.
Basically, moving Gardner-Johnson to either of the two full-time safety modes feels like a situation where you could take your top 5 corners in the game and turn them into your top 15 solid safes. I don’t know how the rest of the Eagles are shaping up, so maybe this is a team improvement, but I definitely think his floor would be a lot lower if he moved to a safe place full time.
5 – Anything you know about him off the field? I imagine there.
He’s great with the media and great at dealing with fans. Eagles lovers will love it. I can think of two things worth passing on that Eagles fans might not know. First, he repeatedly “changed” his name, or rather the name he wants to be called. It has been “Chauncey Gardner-Johnson”, “CJ Gardner-Johnson” and most recently “Ceedy Deuce”.
“Ceedy Deuce” brings up the other point I’ll hit. He’s not a bad rapper, and he usually does it under his name “Ceedy Deuce”.
Take BLG: Chris made an interesting point about how the Saints took CJGJ to safety and chose not to. But it’s not like the Eagles are moving him into a free, full-time safety role. At least, I don’t think they will. The CJGJ would probably line up in a number of different locations, not quite unlike the way the Eagles once used Malcolm Jenkins. I think there can be a learning curve to factor in, especially since it’s not like CJGJ has much time to get used to a new defense. But the low cost of acquiring it made it easier for the vultures to seize the opportunity. It is not unreasonable to bet that his talent will win. Methinks CJGJ will be a fun player to watch.
#safety #vultures #GardnerJohnson