On Tuesday, the Browns will suit up for the first day of training camp.
It’s an early chance for coaches and players to implement strategy and game plans for the season.
It’s also an opportunity to evaluate the depth chart and determine which names will see the most action this season.
Some of those decisions leave players on the outside looking in when it comes to playing time.
This leaves the front office to decide whether to offload players via trade to recoup draft capital.
Expect this very process to play out for the Browns.
If it does, which names might be on the chopping block.
Turns out, we might already have an idea.
Run It Back
One of the under-the-radar storylines this offseason has been the Browns’ running back situation.
No, nothing is wrong.
The team is stacked at the top with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
And they just drafted the University of Cincinnati’s Jerome Ford earlier in the offseason.
That time D’Ernest Johnson broke Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick’s ankles and walked into the end zone for the score #Browns pic.twitter.com/KHfne0SQGs
— CleWest (@erjmanlasvegas) July 24, 2022
Throw in D’Ernest Johnson and Demetric Felton, and the room is starting to get tight.
And according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter, the Browns might look to move a name in its crowded running back room:
“The Browns will trade running back D’Ernest Johnson during training camp. Yes, Johnson is coming off a breakout season filling in for Chubb and Hunt and signed a one-year extension with the Browns during the offseason. But Cleveland drafted another running back in Jerome Ford, a fifth-round selection out of Cincinnati, who flashed a versatile skill set during OTAs and minicamp. With second-year playmaker Demetric Felton also returning, the Browns will move Johnson to a more running back-needy team.”
Though just a prediction, Trotter’s educated guess is an observant one.
The Browns can’t carry five backs into the season.
That’s because they have three players who could all feasibly be the No. 3 back on this team.
Johnson was an excellent option for the Browns last season.
He ran for 534 yards and three scores, helping fill in for an injured Kareem Hunt.
And as a rookie, Demetric Felton had 227 yards on the ground, while also serving in some kick return situations.
And Jerome Ford had an excellent collegiate career, helping navigate the Bearcats to a College Football Playoff appearance last season.
On The Move
Despite Ford and Felton being young and relatively unproven, it’s no surprise why Johnson would be the one to go.
For starters, he could fetch the most on the open market.
While he was used predominately as a third option last season, he could certainly fill in as a team’s backup.
What happens if the Cowboys realize they need a backup to an aging Zeke Elliott?
Or what if the Rams want to bolster their lackluster running back rotation?
the analytics say d'ernest johnson (fourth in yards after contact, fifth in broken tackle rate, second in evasion rate) might be really good
— Denny Carter (@CDCarter13) July 23, 2022
As training camp plays out, teams will also have a better understanding of what they have at the position.
Further, players unfortunately also suffer injuries during camp and the preseason.
A team needy enough would likely fork over a conditional fifth-round pick for Johnson.
While he’s been fun to watch, the Browns might be forced to move on from Johnson to make room for the other talented backs.
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