The Browns have been busy all week making pre-free agency moves and are finalizing plans to make yet another.
As first reported by Brad Stainbrook of the Orange and Brown Report, the Browns have informed restricted free agent running back D’Ernest Johnson that they will tender him as a restricted free agent. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the tender will be at the right of first refusal (1 year/$2,433,000).
Teams can make offers to Johnson when free agency opens and the Browns will have the right to match any offer sheet Johnson signs but if he leaves, the Browns will receive no compensation in return.
The 26-year-old running back took an increased role in 2021 when Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt went down with injuries and Johnson performed well when he got the chance with career highs in rushing yards (534) and rushing touchdowns (3).
His breakout performance came in his first career start on Thursday Night Football in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos. Johnson rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown in the Browns’ 17-14 victory. In Week 18 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Johnson achieved his second 100-yard game when he ran for 123 yards and a touchdown in the Browns 21-16 victory.
It appears barring Johnson getting an offer the Browns couldn’t match or a trade offer the Browns can’t refuse, the running back room is set for the 2022 season with Chubb, Hunt, Johnson, and second-year back Demetric Felton.