With Super Bowl-sized expectations, the Cleveland Browns have to optimize every spot on their 53-man roster, which might mean parting ways with certain players who can bring back value.
Three Browns were recently named by Bleacher Report as “players who should be on the trade block after Week 3.” Running back D’Ernest Johnson was first up on the list, mostly due to the fact that he’s very much fallen out of the rotation with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt healthy, combined with the emergence of rookie Demetric Felton.
Johnson has played just eight offensive snaps this season but has served useful on special teams, playing on both punt and kick returns. He’s in his third season with the Browns, playing a minor role the past two years. He has carried the ball 37 times for 187 yards during his career in Cleveland, also playing a role returning the ball on special teams. He played a larger role when Chubb went down with an injury but didn’t do anything out of this world.
Bleacher Report sees the Browns fetching a third-day pick for Johnson, which would help them bolster their depth in years to come. And with the team hitting on some nice late-round picks — Felton being an example — that would be worth it for Cleveland.
The two other players mentioned on the list are veteran run-stuffing defensive tackle Andrew Billings and tight end Harrison Bryant.
Browns Running Backs Leading the Way for Cleveland
Chubb and Hunt have led the way for the Browns this season, providing a two-headed battering ram on the offensive side of the ball. The Browns are averaging 174 yards per game on the ground, second to only the Ravens.
Hunt is coming off what might have been his best game in a Cleveland uniform, rushing for 81 hard yards, catching six balls for 74 yards and providing a spark with his relentless style.
“Kareem runs like a wild man, like he does not care about his body at all,” Chubb told reporters on Thursday, September 30. “He runs it up, sticks it up in there, takes hits and bounces off of hits. He is just a special player.”
Quarterback Baker Mayfield had a similar take, even giving Hunt a new nickname.
“He runs like Tasmanian Devil,” Mayfield said. “His body, his upper body is leaning one way and his lower body. His balance is outstanding. It is something that very few people are blessed with. Like I said after the game, we are lucky and blessed to have those two guys in our backfield.”
Browns Sign Defensive Back Bryan Mills to Practice Squad
Mills is a 6-1, 184-pound rookie who was signed by the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. He also spent time with the New Orleans Saints in training camp, before being released in August. The North Carolina Central product played in 12 games, starting 10 for the program after transferring from the College of the Canyons in 2019.
Mills was signed after practice squad cornerback Tim Harris was placed on the COVID-19 list. With Greg Newsome out, there’s a chance the Browns bring up an additional cornerback to the 53-man roster on game day for depth.