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Saints make surprise trade with Week 1 nearing

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In a surprising move, the New Orleans Saints have traded cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson to the Philadelphia Eagles, according to his agent. 

The Saints had been in contract talks with Gardner-Johnson, but after they fell through, a trade came up, per NFL Network. The Eagles will send back a 2023 fifth-round and 2024 sixth-round pick in exchange for the veteran corner and a 2025 seventh-round pick. 

New Orleans is loaded with young talent in their secondary, so trading Gardner-Johnson to acquire assets instead of letting him go into free agency after this year was the play. 

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C.J. Gardner-Johnson of the New Orleans Saints before the start of the Green Bay Packers game at TIAA Bank Field on Sept. 12, 2021, in Jacksonville, Florida.
(James Gilbert/Getty Images)

The Eagles continue to bolster their roster prior to the start of the regular season. While making upgrades on offense like wide receiver A.J. Brown, they also added rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who has been a standout. Haason Reddick joins the defensive line, too, and cornerback James Bradberry was added after the New York Giants released him due to a necessary cap crunch. 

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C.J. Gardner-Johnson before the New Orleans Saints take on the Green Bay Packers at TIAA Bank Field on Sept. 12, 2021, in Jacksonville, Florida.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson before the New Orleans Saints take on the Green Bay Packers at TIAA Bank Field on Sept. 12, 2021, in Jacksonville, Florida.
(James Gilbert/Getty Images)

This move came after the Eagles released veteran Anthony Harris, who figured to be the starter at strong safety. Gardner-Johnson is more of a free safety, so Marcus Epps or Andre Chachere could fill that void left by Harris. 

Philadelphia is looking to make a push in the NFC East, with their only rival expected to be the Dallas Cowboys for the division title. The Washington Commanders have improved but still are expected to be a middle-of-the-pack bunch, while the Giants are rebuilding with a new GM and head coach in place.

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C.J. Gardner-Johnson of the New Orleans Saints warms up before the preseason game against the Ravens at M and T Bank Stadium on Aug. 14, 2021 in Baltimore.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson of the New Orleans Saints warms up before the preseason game against the Ravens at M and T Bank Stadium on Aug. 14, 2021 in Baltimore.
(Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

With Jalen Hurts leading the offense and the defense looking stronger by the transaction, head coach Nick Sirianni’s club has what it takes to make an impact in the NFC this season. 

They will begin their new year against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 11. 

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In three seasons with the Saints, Gardner-Johnson tallied five interceptions, 28 passes defended, 161 tackles and three sacks. 

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