July 16, 2024

The signs were building, and a team was even out there. C.J. Gardner-Johnson was not going to be coming back to the Detroit Lions in free agency, it’s just a matter of where he was going to go. On Tuesday evening, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported “Ceedy Deuce” is going back to the Philadelphia Eagles on a three-year deal worth up to $33 million.

Gardner-Johnson tied for the league lead in interceptions playing for the NFC Champion Eagles in the 2022, and he confirmed the news on Twitter

Gardner-Johnson’s lone season in Detroit did not go anywhere near as expected. A torn pectoral in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks sidelined him until the regular season finale, and he played in all three playoff games (including a notable interception of Baker Mayfield in the Divisional Round).

Upon his return to action, Gardner-Johnson was openly not necessarily thrilled to be part of a three-man safety rotation with Kerby Joseph and the emerging Ifeatu Melifonwu.

“Getting into a rotation? I’m cool with it, but I mean, how can I say this? I don’t want to sound like I’m selfish or an a**shole, but I ain’t get back early to be in a rotation,” “But I’m doing what I need to do as a team player to get my body going per se. But I’ve been ready for almost months.”

That set the stage for him to be one-and-done as a Lion, especially since he would surely be able to find a clear-cut starting job elsewhere as a safety/nickel corner when free agency started. It wasn’t even necessarily going to be an issue of cost, but the surface terms of Gardner-Johnson’s deal with Eagles is territory the Lions were never going to get to.

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