3 Former Browns we'll be glad are gone, 2 we'll wish stayed
By Randy Gurzi
Browns player we wish stayed: D'Ernest Johnson
There's a faction of fans that are guilty of extremely overvaluing D'Ernest Johnson. Yes, he's a solid backup running back and he stepped up when called upon in 2021. However, that turned into many touting him as the top backup in the NFL and acting as though it was a travesty that he was allowed to leave this offseason.
The truth is, he's a good back that benefited from a very talented trio of interior lineman that paved the way for him to gain 534 yards and three touchdowns on 100 attempts in 2021. But when teams could negotiate with him in 2022, there were no takers. That's why he stayed in Cleveland on the tender he signed as a restricted free agent with no other interested parties.
This offseason, he did end up signing a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars but he will make less than he did a year ago, agreeing to a minimum $1.09 million deal. Again, this is proof that outside of Cleveland, where Johnson is analyzed without "fan-colored glasses," he's just another backup running back.
Even with that being said, Johnson is a player that could wind up being missed. Again, he's not threatening to get 1,000 yards but he's someone who the Browns trust and can carry the load for a short period of time if asked.
Right now, they have just Jerome Ford and Demetirc Felton. There's a chance Ford could end up being far better than Johnson. There's also a chance a rookie could be as well — should they draft one. But seeing the deal he got with the Jags, it might have been a good idea to bring him back for one more season, even if that was merely for insurance.