Detroit Lions safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson said his new team's roster is "a little better" than his former team, the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, while also throwing some apparent shade at Eagles fans on social media.
"To be honest with you, it's a little better," Gardner-Johnson said while speaking publicly for the first time since joining the Lions via NFL.com. "But 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. Everybody should feel that way. But 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? And I think that's going to start when we get back with each other on the mandatory date to kick in."
Gardner-Johnson also shared a since-deleted tweet in which he chastised Philadelphia fans for their negative reaction to his decision to leave the franchise.
"Philly fans call me overrated lol.....y'all was just my friend," Gardner-Johnson tweeted, calling the fan base "switch ups," via NBC Sports Philadelphia.
On Monday (March 20), C.J. Gardner-Johnson appeared to have revealed the reason why he signed with the Lions over the Eagles. The twitter account for Universal Sports & Entertainment Mgmt. LLC shared a post seemingly comparing the offers made by the Eagles, Garder-Johnson's former team and the Lions, which he agreed to Sunday (March 19) night.
"Perception Vs Reality….1 Year Real vs 3 Year Fake….which sounds better to you 1. One year deal = $8m 2. 3 yr deal = $24m max with 17m+ in yr 3 Which one you taking? Drop," the account wrote.
The tweet came shortly after NBC Philadelphia's Reuben Frank claimed that Gardner-Johnson took less money to sign with the Lions -- who were one spot shy of the playoffs -- rather than return to the NFC champion Eagles.
"I'm told the Eagles did indeed make an offer at the start of free agency, but it wasn't what C.J. wanted, and he turned it down, and by the time he realized he had misjudged the market, the Eagles had moved onto other priorities. So he signed for less with Detroit," Frank tweeted.
Gardner-Johnson, along with Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos and Tariq Woolen of the Seattle Seahawks, recorded an NFL best six interceptions in 2022. The former University of Florida standout was acquired by the Eagles in a trade with the New Orleans Saints ahead of the 2022 season.
Gardner-Johnson was selected by the Saints at No. 105 overall in the fourth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft.