The Chauncey Gardner-Johnson free agent saga with the Philadelphia Eagles will be discussed quite a bit over the next few months. Philadelphia made Gardner-Johnson a free agent priority, yet later declined to match a one-year offer from the Detroit Lions worth up to $8 million in a five-day span.
Whatever happened between Gardner-Johnson and the Eagles is in the past. Gardner-Johnson doesn't have any regret over how things played out with his former team, as he's moved onto the next stage of his career.
"I'm not disappointed. We went to the Super Bowl. The experience I had, I have no bad blood," Gardner-Johnson said in his introductory press conference with the Lions Monday. "The organization was like family.
"It's just -- you gotta do what's best for your family. That's all it is."
The Eagles did have a multiyear offer on the table for Gardner-Johnson at the start of free agency, but he and his representation wanted to test the market. Those offers weren't there in a safety market that only saw Jessie Bates III get a salary north of $10 million per season.
Philadelphia pivoted once Gardner-Johnson passed, deciding to focus its attention on re-signing James Bradberry and working out a contract extension with Darius Slay. The Eagles kept their cornerback duo intact for the next several seasons and Gardner-Johnson settled on a one-year deal with Detroit.
Gardner-Johnson is reunited with Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who was his defensive backs coach with the New Orleans Saints in 2019 and 2020. He joins a revamped Lions secondary with free agent signings Emmanuel Moseley and Cameron Sutton.
The Lions are one of the surprising teams in the NFL last seaosn, finishing 9-8 and losing out to the Seattle Seahawks on a tiebreaker for the final playoff spot. Gardner-Johnson believes his new team is on the rise, even suggesting Detroit has more talent than the Eagles team he played on last season.
"To be honest with you, it's a little better," Gardner-Johnson said, per Pro Football Talk. "That's just on me. I mean everybody can look from the outside looking in, but this team is talented. This team, we can win the division, like possibly win the division.
"When I look at a team coming from where I came from, the teams I played on, won multiple divisions, been in playoff games, been to the Super Bowl, this team has what it takes to be a divisional [champion]. You know what I'm saying?
"Get there, win the division, get to the playoffs -- but it's got to start with 'What's your identity? Who are you?' I think that's going to start when we get back with each other on the mandatory date to kick in."
Gardner-Johnson has never lacked confidence, which is what made him so appealing to passionate fanbases like the Eagles and Saints. The same will likely happen with the Lions, as he'll bring some confidence to a pass defense that is vital toward Detroit ending a six-year playoff drought.