D’Ernest Johnson has yet to sign his restricted free agent tender with the Cleveland Browns but that hasn’t stopped him from showing up for OTAs
Last season when Kareem Hunt was injured, D’Ernest Johnson stepped up in a big way for the Cleveland Browns.
Johnson started two games and was the primary backup in several more. In total, he had 100 rushing attempts for 534 yards with three touchdowns. That includes a 146-yard game in a Week 7 win over Denver on Thursday Night Football and 123 yards against Cincinnati in Week 18.
When the season ended, so did Johnson’s original contract with Cleveland, but since he was a restricted free agent, they held all the cards in whether or not he would be returning to Berea.
The Browns decided they wanted him to come back for 2022 and gave him a $2.4 million tender. As of now, Johnson hasn’t signed the contract but that hasn’t stopped him from showing up.
Despite not technically being signed, he was at the team’s first round of OTAs, showing the same desire and dedication that allowed him to come out of nowhere and secure a spot on Cleveland’s roster.
Johnson is allowing his agent and the team to deal with the business side of the game while he continues to work on his craft.
It’s probably a smart move for him as well with more competition on the roster this season. Cleveland already had an elite running back room with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt (who is healthy again), and D’Ernest Johnson.
But now, they added Jerome Ford in the draft and are expecting more from second-year player Demetric Felton who is focused on running back this season after splitting time there and as a receiver in his rookie campaign.
Johnson has proven to be a very valuable member of the team and he’s only going to get better as long as his focus continues to stay where it has been.