Speaking in his opening press conference after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Lions over the weekend, Gardner-Johnson made the eye-popping suggestion that the talent he’s set to line up with in Detroit actually has an edge on the group that he played with in Philadelphia last season.
“To be honest with you, it's a little better,” he said, per NFL Media. “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.”
Gardner-Johnson’s suggestion that the Lions could win the division isn’t entirely outlandish, but comparing them to the 2022 Eagles, who dominated the NFC and nearly won a Super Bowl, seems to put rather lofty expectations on a Detroit franchise looking to make the playoffs for the first time since ’16.
That being said, Gardner-Johnson’s addition to the roster should give the Lions defense a boost in 2023. The 25-year-old recorded a league-high six interceptions last year, while also racking up eight pass defenses and five tackles for loss in 12 games played.
Gardner-Johnson will be a part of a revamped secondary in Detroit, joining fellow defensive back free agent acquisitions Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley on the back end of Aaron Glenn’s defense beginning this fall.