CJ Henderson: Trade to Panthers really started my career over

When the Jaguars took cornerback CJ Henderson with the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, the thought was that he’d be a long-term member of the defense in Jacksonville.

The reality was much different. Henderson played eight games as a rookie and dealt with a season-ending groin injury before getting traded to the Panthers two games into the 2021 season.

Henderson played 10 games for Carolina, but learning the defense on the fly while also adjusting to new teammates meant it wasn’t the smoothest ride for the cornerback. That experience and having a full offseason has made things easier on Henderson, who teammate Donte Jackson said is “smiling, laughing a lot more” than he did last year.

“Yeah, I feel a lot more comfortable,” Henderson said, via the team’s website. “I feel like my sophomore year, I really started my career over.”

Whatever the difficulties of the transition, the Panthers landed a former top-10 pick and the hope will be that the potential that led to that selection translates to the field more often in 2022.