Defensive back and famed trash-talker C.J. Gardner-Johnson is forcing the New Orleans Saints’ hand on a contract extension in 2022, and the Saints would be wise to give him what he wants.
Gardner-Johnson has reportedly limited his participation in training camp as he hopes to secure a new deal before the start of the 2022 season. The fourth-year slot corner has played his way to a starting spot in NOLA and enjoyed a particularly impressive season in 2021 with a career-high three interceptions and a career-best mark in passer rating allowed as the closest defender, holding quarterbacks to an overall 67.7 rating.
Several elite Saints players are entering the final year of their contracts this season including David Onyemata, Erik McCoy, and Deonte Harty, but Ceedy Duce is the only one joining the hold-in trend (or a semi-hold-in, anyway).
Given his, er, colorful personality, we wouldn’t expect anything less.
Saints should lock up corner C.J. Gardner-Johnson before the start of the 2022 season
Elsewhere in the league, Derwin James, Diontae Johnson and Roquan Smith are also holding out for extensions, and a few big names (D.K. Metcalf and Deebo Samuel) have already gotten their bag.
Saints Wire’s John Sigler suggests a fair deal for Ceedy Duce could look like that of Buffalo Bills’ nickel corner Taron Johnson, who signed a three-year, $24 million extension last September.
In the Saints’ secondary, only Marshon Lattimore commands a mega-contract worth roughly $19 million a year; other projected starters like Tyrann Mathieu and Bradley Roby are tied to relatively affordable short-term deals.
NOLA should have the cash to allocate toward re-signing a versatile and productive defensive back like Gardner-Johnson, and the front office’s cap space wizards will ensure any finalized deal is both player-friendly and team-friendly.
Ceedy Duce may have garnered an infamous reputation as one of the league’s rowdiest instigators, yet he has produced his share of fine moments in NOLA from rescuing baby goats to making game-changing plays from the slot.
Apart from Mathieu, Ceedy Duce may be the Saints’ most beloved defender and the team would hate to see him go. Pay him what he’s worth and move on.