Philadelphia Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s reputation as an elite trash-talker continues to precede him. He was known for getting in people’s ears in New Orleans, and he’s brought that same devious energy to his new team.
But, in a stunning revelation, the boisterous 25-year-old doesn’t reserve his jawing for the opposition. Gardner-Johnson likes to yell at the coaching staff, including Nick Sirianni who doesn’t seem to mind it.
“He’s going to talk. He doesn’t just talk to the players, he talks to me sometimes, too,” Sirianni told reporters. “I have to always tell Chauncey, listen, I’m the head football coach. Like I’m for the defense and the offense here. I know I’m standing over on the offensive side, but you’re over there talking s*** to me, pardon me, you’re over there talking s*** to me but I’m on both your guys’ side.”
Sirianni has been known to talk a good game himself, especially when it comes to “busting chops” on the tennis court. Naturally, the uber-competitive coach can absorb expletives just as viciously as he hands them out. Gardner-Johnson’s venom on the practice field, and in a game setting, is appreciated.
“He brings great energy to the meeting room, he brings great energy to the football field,” Sirianni said. “What I believe it is, is that he loves the game of football and he truly is out there and enjoying himself, bringing great energy.”
Gardner-Johnson: ‘I’m the Best Safety in the League’
Gardner-Johnson finished with six interceptions, which was tied for tops in the NFL alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick, Justin Simmons, and Tariq Woolen. However, the Eagles star did it in only 12 games after missing five weeks due to a lacerated kidney. He also recorded 67 tackles, 8 pass breakups, and 1 quarterback sack. So, excuse him as he pounds his chest and points to himself as the best player at his position.
“Y’all know I’m the best safety in the league right now,” Gardner-Johnson told reporters on January 9. “I ain’t played in what, six weeks? And I still lead the league [in interceptions]. I ain’t trying to be arrogant or cocky, I just know they brought me here to get the ball and do what I gotta do to, play off my teammates, and that’s what I did.”
He’s an impending free agent, too. Young playmakers at the safety spot are hard to find, so it’s safe to assume Howie Roseman will do everything in his power to lock Gardner-Johnson up this offseason. They’ll get to the negotiating table soon enough. The cost? Spotrac estimates his worth at $14 million annually, or a 5-year deal for $70.4 million.
Avonte Maddox Officially Ruled Out
The Eagles officially ruled nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox out for Saturday night. That means Gardner-Johnson will likely take over in the slot, with Reed Blankenship and Marcus Epps on the field as the starting safeties. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon all but confirmed it during his media availability earlier this week after praising the job Gardner-Johnson did at nickel cornerback in the regular-season finale.
Meanwhile, Maddox was the only Eagles player ruled out against the New York Giants. Quarterback Jalen Hurts carried no injury designation. Ditto for right tackle Lane Johnson and defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Brandon Graham missed Thursday’s practice with a non-COVID illness, but he’s expected to play.