Jaguars To Add RB D’Ernest Johnson

The Browns could well lose their second- and third-string running backs from the past two seasons. While Kareem Hunt remains unsigned, D’Ernest Johnson will change teams.

Johnson is signing a one-year deal with the Jaguars, Adam Schefter of tweets. The Browns were interested in retaining Johnson, Mary Kay Cabot of adds (on Twitter), but the Florida native will move on after four seasons in Ohio.

Jacksonville has both re-signed its second-stringer from last season — JaMycal Hasty — and now added Johnson as a Travis Etienne backup option. Johnson, 27, did not see much action last season, but injuries to Hunt and Nick Chubb in the past allowed the former Alliance of American Football performer some run in Cleveland. Hunt missing time in 2021 opened the door to a 534-yard Johnson rushing season, leading the Browns to retain him via a one-year, $2.43MM contract in 2022.

With both Chubb and Hunt out for a Thursday-night game against the Broncos in 2021, Johnson displayed his ball-carrying chops to a national audience. The unlikely NFLer powered the Browns to a victory with a 146-yard rushing performance, adding 22 receiving yards during the victory. Johnson also produced a 99-yard game against the Patriots that season and zoomed for 123 against Bengals backups in a meaningless Week 18 contest.

Chubb is signed to a three-year, $36.6MM extension, which runs through the 2024 season. Hunt played out his second Browns contract last season. The team has 2022 fifth-round pick Jerome Ford, along with John Kelly and Nate McCreary on its offseason roster. Ford totaled eight carries last season, which topped Johnson’s four in the Chubb-Hunt attack. While Hunt has long been expected to leave, he is one of the last notable backs still unsigned. The market not producing an early deal for the Cleveland-area native could potentially lead to he and the Browns discussing another partnership.

The Jaguars gave Hasty a two-year, $2.9MM extension earlier this offseason. It should not be expected Johnson’s deal will surpass this by much — if at all. Etienne overtook James Robinson as Jacksonville’s starter early last season, leading the Jags to trade their two-time 1,000-yard rusher to the Jets. Robinson, who made little impact in New York, is now with New England. Two years remain on Etienne’s rookie deal, and the Jags can keep him through 2025 via the fifth-year option.

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