The Cleveland Browns and running back D’Ernest Johnson reached an agreement on a new contract Saturday.
It is a one-year deal worth up to $2.43 million with $900,000 in guaranteed money for Johnson, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. The agreement also lowers Johnson’s salary cap number.
#Browns and RB D'Ernest Johnson agree on a one-year deal worth up to $2.43 million if he reaches his incentives. Same as RFA tender, but this gives him $900K guaranteed and lowers the cap number https://t.co/7tPJzU6YdB— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) June 4, 2022
The Browns placed a right of first refusal tender on Johnson in March, which allowed Johnson to seek a better deal in free agency while also allowing the Browns to match any offer.
Despite switching agents in April and signing with Rosenhaus Sports Representation, a better deal apparently did come along, which brings Johnson back to the Browns.
Johnson proved to be a valuable insurance policy for the Browns in 2021 as running back Nick Chubb missed three games with an injury and running back Kareem Hunt missed nine. That provided Johnson the opportunity to take over as the lead back in three games, and he responded with:
- 146 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Denver Broncos in Week 7
- 99 rushing yards against the New England Patriots in Week 10
- 123 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 18
In three seasons with the Browns, Johnson has rushed for 721 yards, three touchdowns and averaged 5.3 yards per carry, while adding 28 receptions for 222 yards.
While having Johnson on the roster is nice, the running back is a bit crowded at the moment with Chubb, Kareem Hunt, second-year back Demetric Felton and rookie Jerome Ford joining Johnson.
Chubb is obviously locked in as the undisputed No. 1 back, but Hunt is entering the final year of his contract that carries a cap hit of $6.25 million but no dead cap money, according to spotrac.com. If Berry decides that three running backs are a luxury, then he could look to move Hunt if the price is right.
It seems unlikely that the Browns will carry five running backs on the roster, but it is also hard to see who might not make the team behind Chubb as everyone brings something of value to the table.
These situations have a way of working themselves out, however, so for now the Browns can sit back comfortably in the knowledge that they have one of the best running back rooms in the NFL.