Our top-10 free agents include a pair of players who are available to anyone who wants to pursue them. For one, quarterback Lamar Jackson, a pair of first-round draft picks would be the compensation if he’s signed to an offer sheet that the Ravens don’t match. For the other, safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, he’s free and clear with no restriction or compensation.
There have been crickets this week regarding Gardner-Johnson. Typically, that’s a sign the player wants more than anyone will pay.
As one league source put it on Saturday morning, anyone who remains available at this point is overshooting the market.
Five days since the market essentially opened, it’s also a sign that big money likely won’t be there. Teams burn through their budgets fairly quickly, rarely keeping money around for a player who wanted more than he attracted at the outset of the process.
The situation points to a potential one-year deal for Gardner-Johnson, allowing him to hit the market again next year, in another attempt to cash in with a multi-year contract.
A player with a nose for the ball, Gardner-Johnson had six interceptions (tied for the league lead) in 12 games last season.
A return to the Eagles remains possible. The Broncos also could be interested, given that new coach Sean Payton worked for the Saints when Gardner-Johnson arrived via round four of the draft.
However it plays out, someone will be getting a damn good player. He just likely won’t be getting the damn good contract he was hoping to secure.