BRONCOS

Report: Broncos have interest in reuniting Sean Payton and C.J. Gardner-Johnson

Mar 15, 2023, 9:36 PM

In just six weeks on the job, Sean Payton has wasted little time bringing people with New Orleans Saints connections to UCHealth Training Center. Now, that group of ex-Saints in Denver could include a new starting safety.

According to a report from Aaron Wilson of KPRC-Ch. 2 in Houston, the Broncos have interest in signing free-agent safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

A fourth-round pick of the Saints in 2019, Gardner-Johnson started seven games as a rookie before becoming a full-time starter in 2020. He remained in that role with the Saints until the 2022 preseason, when New Orleans dealt him to Philadelphia in a trade that involved three draft picks changing hands.

Adding Gardner-Johnson would give the Broncos two of the four players who shared the NFL lead in interceptions last season. Gardner-Johnson had a career-high 6 picks, matching the total of Justin Simmons. Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick and Seattle’s Tariq Woolen matched that tally.

Gardner-Johnson amassed his pick total in just 12 games. Opposing quarterbacks had a 78.4 passer rating when throwing at him last year, per the data compiled by SportRadar.com. That marked the third consecutive season in which he held opposing QBs to a rating below 80.0 when throwing in his direction.

His performance led to reports that the Eagles could place the franchise tag on him. That did not come to pass. And now, a reunion with the coach who brought him into the NFL could be possible.

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