Ex-Browns Running Back Breaks Silence After Bolting For AFC South Squad

D'Ernest Johnson

Getty Images Deshaun Watson and D'Ernest Johnson of the Cleveland Browns.

D’Ernest Johnson will not be returning to the Cleveland Browns next season, signing a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Johnson has spent his entire career with the Browns but will get a fresh start with the Jaguars. The deal is for one year, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. The full terms of the contract were not immediatley avaialble.

Johnson took to Twitter after the deal was announced to celebrate the news.

“DUUUVAL,” Johnson tweeted, tapping into the Jacksonville’s rallying cry.

Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com said the team wanted Johnson back but he can’t be blamed for bolting for a spot where he’ll likely have more of a shot to produce.

Johnson Didn’t Get on Field Last Season with Browns

Johnson is expected to team up with lead back Travis Etienne in the Jags backfield. It’s a nice spot for Johnson, who is coming off a disappointing year in Cleveland that was defined by lack of opportunity.

“Previously buried on the Browns’ depth chart, Johnson now profiles as the No. 2 in JAX behind the shiftier Etienne, who boasts superior receiving skills,” NFL.com’s Kevin Patra wrote. “The diverse skillsets of the two rushers complement each other well.”

Johnson was inactive for a chunk of the season and notched just four carries for 17 yards. He also added three catches for seven yards and returned a kickoff for 27 yards. But Johnson did not complain and now gets his next shot, where he will hope he can replicate part of what he showed during a breakout season in 2021.

With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt banged up, the team turned to Johnson to carry the load. He collected 534 yards and three touchdowns on 100 carries. With the Browns’ backfield staying relatively healthy — on top of the addition of rookie Jerome Ford — Johnson rarely saw the field.

Johnson is from Florida and played his college ball at USF, so he should feel at home in Jacksonville.

Browns Still Have Steady Workhorse in Nick Chubb

The Browns backfield will look different next season with Johnson gone and Kareem Hunt also expected to be wearing new colors next season. However, the team still has their workhorse, All-Pro in Chubb, who is coming off a season where he rushed for 1,525 yards and was third in the NFL with 302 carries.

Chubb has been the primary focus of the Browns offense, and rightly so. However, that could shift next season in Year 2 of Deshaun Watson, per Matthew Berry of NBC Sports.

“Cleveland’s offense is going to be really interesting next year. Look for the Browns to add a speed wide receiver this off-season to go with Amari Cooper. One source told me ‘They are really going to open up the offense. Go five wide. Pass a lot. This is going to be Deshaun Watson’s offense, not Nick Chubb’s. They will pass a lot more than folks expect,’” Berry wrote.

The Browns bolstered their wide receiver corps by trading for former Jets second-round pick Elijah Moore on Wednesday. And it didn’t come at a huge cost, with Cleveland giving up a second-round pick. They also got a third-round pick (No. 74 overall) from the Jets along with Moore.

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