In a quick series of moves on Tuesday morning, the Philadelphia Eagles made some big changes at the safety position.
According to multiple reports, the Eagles included former starting safety Anthony Harris among their roster cuts as they worked to get down to 53 players. Minutes after those reports surfaced, another one came down the pipe: the Eagles traded for former Saints defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, according to NFL.com. ESPN reported that the Eagles will send their 2023 fifth-round pick and the worse of their two sixth-round picks in 2024 to New Orleans in exchange for Gardner-Johnson and a even rounder in 2025.
Harris signed with Philadelphia last offseason after spending the first six seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. He played in and started 14 games for the Eagles a year ago, spending time lining up in the box, in the slot, and deep in center field.
That's a skill set Gardner-Johnson has shown throughout his career in New Orleans as well. In addition to playing safety, Gardner-Johnson has shown himself to be extremely effective covering out of the slot. That versatility should aid defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon as he attempts to build out the defense that was schematically interesting but not as effective as he'd hoped last season.
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The Eagles also figure to try to sign Gardner-Johnson to an extension in short order. He's headed into the final season of his rookie contract, and having just surrendered value to pick him up, Philadelphia likely views him as part of its long-term plan.
The Saints, meanwhile, move on from an important part of their secondary, but still have plenty of depth left over. They still have Marcus Maye, P.J. Williams, Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adebo, and Bradley Roby, and they signed Tyrann Mathieu this offseason and drafted Avontae Taylor in the second round. There should be enough there for new head coach Dennis Allen to account for the loss of one of the team's most versatile players.
Eagles trade grade: A-
Philadelphia snagged Gardner-Johnson for a very low cost. This is a team that has draft picks to spare, and it gave up only late-rounders for a player who should be an excellent fit for its defense. The only thing holding this back from being a straight "A" grade is that CJGJ has yet to be signed to an extension, and we don't yet know what the terms of such a deal will be.
Saints trade grace: C-
New Orleans could have easily held on to Gardner-Johnson through this season, then let him walk in free agency and received a third- or fourth-round compensatory pick in 2024. That would be more valuable to them than the fifth- and sixth-rounders they received in this deal -- even if there would have been a bit of a delayed payoff. The extra year of quality play at an important position would have been well worth it.