C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s behavior towards Saints coaches reportedly paved way for trade

The New Orleans Saints trading defensive back C.J. Gardner Johnson to the Philadelphia Eagles shocked many. But according to one report, it was bound to happen.

On Aug. 30, the day of the NFL’s roster cutdown deadline, the New Orleans Saints made a rather shocking decision. They decided to trade safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and a 2025 seventh-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-round pick. The move made Philadelphia’s active offseason that much better. But why would the Saints trade away their talented defensive back?

According to New Orleans Football’s Nick Underhill (subscription required), the Saints let it be known that they were not going to re-sign Gardner-Johnson “on his terms.” Not only that, but Underhill reports that Gardner-Johnson “stopped taking coaching.”

Saints: Reported reasons for C.J. Gardner-Johnson trade to Eagles

Gardner-Johnson, a 2019 fourth-round pick out of Florida, was entering the final year of his rookie contract, and set to hit free agency at the end of the 2022 campaign. Gardner-Johnson opted to hold in during training camp during negotiations.

NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan noted in an article following the trade (subscription required) that during one practice, Gardner-Johnson was injured following a collision, and yelled at the team’s trainers “see, this is what you all wanted.” The quote, as Duncan notes, was “presumably being about his uncertain contract status.”

Head coach Dennis Allen spoke to the media about the trade, saying that the decision was not easy, but that he was confident in their defensive backfield, which he called “the deeper positions” that they had.

The Eagles continued their strong offseason by adding yet another talented player to their defense. Edge rusher Haason Reddick, cornerback James Bradberry, defensive tackle Jordan Davis, linebacker Nakobe Dean, and now Gardner-Johnson. This is a team that is going all-in to win the NFC East, and possibly go on a deep playoff run.

Now, it will remain to be seen if the Eagles are able to agree to terms with Gardner-Johnson on a contract extension.