How the Browns running back room will look differently in 2023
The Cleveland Browns will have very few familiar faces returning to the running back room in 2023. Obivously, Nick Chubb leads the way for that position group, but who will back him up?
As of now, which of course, is entirely too early to even be able to fully tell, Jerome Ford looks to be the guy to spell Chubb during games. He will more than likely be the third down back, similar to how Kareem Hunt used to be.
Speaking of Hunt, will he be back in 2023? It is certainly possible for that to be a thing, but Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com thinks that is only the case if the Browns can sign him for a bargain at the end of free agency.
Many thought he would've found a new home by now, but there's not much interest. Hunt fell off a season ago, constantly looking like he was stuck in neutral, which ultimately hurt his free-agent stock, He had one strong season back in 2020 but missed half the year in both 2019 and 2021 due to injuries and a suspension.
D'Ernest Johnson will not be back with the Browns this year as he signed a one-year deal with the Jaguars last week. He was productive when called upon for Cleveland, averaging 5.2 yards per carry (141 carries) for over 700 yards and a trio of scores.
John Kelly is still under contract, but he could be a camp casualty, but he will at least get a chance to compete for a roster spot.
Chubb could play his last season in brown and orange in 2023, as the Browns could decide to move on from him next offseason, saving over $12 million in cap space. Now, I'm not suggesting that is what will happen whatsoever, but it is at least on the table.
That will be determined by how Chubb does in an offensive scheme that will shift to a more pass-oriented one, centered around Deshaun Watson. Andrew Berry went out and traded for wide receiver Elijah Moore before signing free agent receiver Marquise Goodwin. Chubb will still be the featured back, but he should be more limited in 2023 to help preserve him for a potential playoff run.
You can expect the Browns to draft at least one running back, as there is a ton of talent in the range of their first few picks. This could be insurance for Cleveland should they decide to cut ties with Chubb next season. Even if it isn't until after the 2024 season, this will give the Browns young guys to take over if need be.
Even with more passes likely to be called than runs per game, Chubb and company can still be a lethal rushing attack, especially with the offensive line coming back healthy. If the passing game gets going the way the Browns envision, it will only open up more rushing lanes for Chubb and Ford and whoever else is on the roster.