The Detroit Lions expected safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson to play a huge role on defense after inking him to a one-year deal in free agency. However, Gardner-Johnson sustained a non-contact injury to his knee in training camp and had to be carted off-field. The good news is that there doesn't seem to be structural damage to the knee and is day-to-day. But while the Lions wait for their recovery, they could get on the phone with the Jacksonville Jaguars and inquire about a handful of players to replace Gardner-Johnson in his absence.
A fourth-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 2019, Gardner-Johnson generally lined up in the slot in Big Easy. However, he mostly played safety for the Philadelphia Eagles last year, registering a career-best six interceptions and eight passes defensed.
Although Detroit is optimistic that Gardner-Johnson won't miss the 2023 season, they'll need to look for a potential replacement. Second-round pick Brian Branch could be the first in-house option to take his place but if they're looking for outside alternatives, here are three Jaguars players they inquire about.
No. 3 Jaguars player the Lions could trade for to replace CJ Gardner-Johnson: Daniel Thomas
It's uncertain how the Lions planned to deploy C.J. Gardner Johnson on defense next season but if they wanted to use him like Philadelphia did last year, he would then get lots of snaps at safety. The Lions already have Tracy Walker III and Kerby Joseph in the mix but if they want to add depth to the position, they could then ask the Jags about Daniel Thomas.
A fifth-round pick in 2020, Thomas made a few starts in his rookie season but an arm injury ended his season prematurely. Since then, he's mostly played a reserve role and is headed for a contract year. Jacksonville just drafted Erick Mallet II and Antonio Johnson, so they're in a solid position to trade Thomas.