Blockbuster Lions Trade Proposal Sends ‘Game-Changing’ Safety to Detroit

Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos

Getty Justin Simmons #31 of the Denver Broncos.

The Detroit Lions signed defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson last offseason as part of an overhaul to their struggling secondary, but injuries and inconsistent play left him with a limited impact.

With Gardner-Johnson now headed back to free agency, one report suggests it could be time the Lions try again this offseason by taking aim at another big-name player — Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons.

Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon compiled a list of trades that can “reshape” the NFL in 2024, suggesting that the Lions could find the final piece that would help get them to the Super Bowl.

“Yeah, this one isn’t as glitzy as the rest. But when you consider how close the Detroit Lions got to the Super Bowl in 2023, a deal for a game-changing defender could be the type of move that puts the team over the top in 2024,” Gagnon wrote.


Broncos Could Be Perfect Trade Partner

Gagnon noted that Simmons has a profile that matches Detroit’s needs perfectly, adding that a trade would offer the Broncos some much-needed cap relief.

“Simmons is on the wrong side of 30, and a Denver Broncos team that simply hasn’t been competitive can save $14.5 million by moving on ahead of a walk year for the two-time Pro Bowler, per Spotrac,” Gagnon wrote.

“Here, they can send him out of the conference to a team that could get more bang for its buck with him as a contender in 2024.”

While Gagnon didn’t suggest what price the Lions might need to pay in order to land Simmons, Detroit does have seven draft picks this year and could be willing to part with some to fill such an important need.


C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s Trying Season

The Lions had hoped that Gardner-Johnson could have an immediate impact in Detroit, but his season was cut short by a pectoral injury suffered in the team’s Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Though he returned to the roster in December, the former Philadelphia Eagles safety struggled down the final stretch, especially in the team’s NFC Championship game loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

As PFF noted, the Lions struggled on defense in the 34-31 loss and Gardner-Johnson had a team-worst three missed tackles. He also had a costly penalty when he was flagged for unnecessary roughness after hitting wide receiver Deebo Samuel during an interception return off Brock Purdy.

Jared Ramsey of the Detroit Free Press suggested the Lions could focus on cornerback as they look to beef up the secondary, naming Chidobe Awuzie as a potential target in free agency.

“Assuming the price for a top cornerback available like Jaylon Johnson will be above what the Lions will pay for, a player like Awuzie could be a potential target after being a starter on the Bengals since 2021, including their run to the Super Bowl,” Ramsey wrote. “He was previously on a contract worth $7.25 million per season, and the Bengals have been drafting cornerbacks in recent years, which means Awuzie could be available, likely at a raise or similar rate as his previous deal.”

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