PFF names C.J. Gardner-Johnson as the Eagles bounce-back candidate for 2024

C.J. Gardner-Johnson reunited with the Eagles when both parties severely needed reconciliation.

Gardner-Johnson departed Philadelphia for Detroit last spring after an inability to agree to a contract that eventually went to James Bradberry. The Eagles’ defense regressed in 2023 without Gardner-Johnson’s swagger and big-play ability.

With a pec injury, Gardner-Johnson missed most of the Lions’ run to the playoffs and couldn’t be as productive in Detroit’s system.

PFF recently examined bounce-back candidates for all 32 NFL teams, and Gardner-Johnson made the list for Philadelphia.

With the Eagles adding two cornerbacks with their top two draft picks, it’s probably not a great omen for their thoughts on Darius Slay and James Bradberry, both of whom are over 30 years old and declined last year. Quietly, though, Philly reunited with Gardner-Johnson, which should provide a boost to a secondary that was torn apart last year.

Gardner-Johnson played only 291 snaps in 2023 because of a torn pec, and his late-season return was a mixed bag. The safety was a weak link in the Lions’ conference championship loss to the 49ers, with a 33.9 overall grade.

Part of why Gardner-Johnson wasn’t as good last year was his diminished pass rush, with his 50.7 grade in that department a career low by a landslide. Then again, it’s encouraging that his coverage grade remained consistent based on years past. If Vic Fangio deploys CGJ more as a blitzer, he should have a better 2024.

A ballhawk and big-play defender; Gardner-Johnson has 12 interceptions in 58 career games, four sacks, 39 pass deflections, 20 tackles for loss, and 14 quarterback hits.

Gardner-Johnson can play safety or slot corner, which gives new Eagles defensive coordinator Vic Fangio flexibility with his lineups.

Story originally appeared on Eagles Wire