D’Ernest Johnson has yet to suit up for the Cleveland Browns this season and has become a prime trade candidate as he sits on the shelf.
Johnson is coming off a breakout season with the Browns where he started a pair of games, collecting 534 yards on 100 carries with three touchdowns. He’s a hard-nosed runner who can be an effective option for consistent yards — his 5.3 yards per carry average last season is evidence of that.
Johnson could be an intriguing option for a team like the Los Angeles Rams, who have a questionable running back room led by Cam Akers. The Rams have just 117 rushing yards through two weeks, which is the second worst in the league behind only the Seahawks.
Rams coach Sean McVay Hasn’t been particularly happy with Akers, who was expect to be the lead back but has had a fairly limited role through two weeks.
“There were some instances where there were some positive things and some things that he can do better,” McVay told reporters after Akers had just three carries in the opener. “But do want to see just an increased level of urgency and accountability snap in and snap out from him.”
Proposed Trade Moves Johnson to Rams for Safety Burgess
Bleacher Report pitched the defending Super Bowl champs as a suitor for Johnson, sending defensive help to the Browns in exchange for the 26-year-old runner. Here’s what B/R’s Kristopher Knox had to say about a potential deal:
The Los Angeles Rams could use a hard runner like Johnson, as they’re getting little out of their ground game, specifically Cam Akers. Los Angeles has averaged a mere 2.7 yards per carry, while Akers has averaged 2.4. In L.A., Johnson could be a solid complement to Darrell Henderson Jr., who has averaged a more respectable 4.1 yards per rush.
Instead of trading draft capital, the Rams could flip backup safety Terrell Burgess, who has yet to play a defensive snap this season. The 2020 third-round pick wouldn’t fix the communication issues on the back end of Cleveland’s defense, but he could give defensive coordinator Joe Woods another option on the back end.
Burgess perhaps has some potential as a former third-round pick that hasn’t had much opportunity to prove his worth. But the Browns aren’t in desperate need of depth there, with John Johnson III, Grant Delpit and Ronnie Harrison holding it down.
The trio has room for improvement — especially after the Week 2 defensive meltdown against the Jets — but there’d be no guarantee that Burgess could get on the field in Cleveland after a rough start to his career in LA.
Johnson Unlikely to Find Work in Cleveland Without Injury
Johnson is talented but the reality is that he won’t find much work if he remains in Cleveland. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have received the lion’s share of work early on this season and will continue to do so as one of the top running back tandems in the league.
Chubb is second in the NFL with 228 yards, while Hunt has 104 yards of his own and has also contributed in the passing game.
The Browns have chosen to keep Jerome Ford active over Johnson, with the rookie playing a role on special teams as a kick returner.