But there was one little detail to be worked out if he wanted to make the regular-season roster.
Johnson finally agreed to and signed his $2.43 million tender today.
Cleveland’s third running back drew some attention with a 5.3 yards-per-carry average in 2 starts last year.
Confirming #Browns have agreed with RB D’Ernest Johnson on a 1 year deal worth $2.43M. Same as RFA tender but gets $900k in guarantees this way
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) June 4, 2022
And the Browns let the restricted free agent look for a better deal than their low-end tender.
But Johnson did not find a better offer from another team, leaving him to negotiate exclusively with the Browns.
Berry did not up the ante, understandable since Johnson remains #3 on the Browns’ depth chart.
He did, however, guarantee $900,000 of Johnson’s deal.
Johnson Has New Competition
Before the 2022 NFL Draft, Berry told the press he expected Johnson to return to the Browns.
We’ll never know if the Browns would have matched a better offer if Johnson received one.
But we know Berry’s interest was legit despite the drafting of the University of Cincinnati’s Jerome Ford.
D'Ernest Johnson MOVING the chains for Cleveland 🔥
— PFF (@PFF) October 11, 2020
Although we already saw Felton line up outside in OTAs.
But the signing of Johnson makes for a crowded running back room, nonetheless.
If the team fears losing Ford off the practice squad, he could need a spot on the 53-man roster.
And that could put Felton- no longer needed as a return specialist- or fullback Johnny Stanton at risk.
What It Means For The Browns
Cleveland might be forced to carry an extra running back to protect themselves in 2023.
Kareem Hunt and Johnson are unrestricted free agents, with Hunt expected to test the market.
And another strong performance in relief for Johnson could drive his price up, too.
That could be a key factor as Berry faces his tightest salary cap challenge yet.
D’Ernest Johnson got SHIFTY 🤧 pic.twitter.com/VShvTh6pjf
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) December 26, 2021
Ford was compared to Hunt out of the draft and will get plenty of preseason work to show it.
Whether or not Kevin Stefanski’s revamped offense calls for a fullback will determine Stanton’s role.
He might need to work on his tight end skills to save his roster spot this year.
It is not unrealistic to project a running back trio of Nick Chubb, Johnson, and Ford in 2023.