The Cleveland Browns will allow running back D'Ernest Johnson a chance to check out his worth but leave the door open to keeping him in town.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that the Browns plan to tender the restricted free agent running back at the right of first refusal, per a source informed of the decision.
The news means that Johnson can sign a one-year tender worth $2.4 million to stick in Cleveland for 2022 before hitting free agency next offseason. Or he can ink a deal with a new club that the Browns will get the chance to match -- the team would get no compensation if they decline.
Johnson came on strong last season as the Browns dealt with injuries and COVID-19 issues. The 26-year-old earned 534 yards on 100 carries with three TDs in 2021. In the two games he started, Johnson generated 146 yards with a TD and 99 yards rushing, respectively.
The South Florida product displayed power to run over defenders, solid vision, and good burst on the second level. He certainly showed he's capable of having a rotational role in a backfield.
The question is whether that will be in Cleveland or elsewhere.
With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt already taking up a sizable chunk of cap space and squeezing Johnson out of playing time, the Browns might decline to match an offer. Cleveland also wants to get Demetric Felton more involved in 2022, making the backfield even more crowded. But if no other team steps to the plate, Cleveland is leaving itself in a position to bring Johnson back for another season.
- The Chicago Bears are releasing running back Tarik Cohen and veteran defensive lineman Eddie Goldman, Rapoport reports. The team announced it has been assigned running back Darrynton Evans off waivers from the Titans.
- The Cincinnati Bengals announced they have signed linebacker Joe Bachie to a one-year contract extension.
- The Dallas Cowboys released kicker Greg Zuerlein and waived/injured tight end Blake Jarwin. The team also announced it has released cornerback Reggie Robinson II and running back Ito Smith, along with wide receiver Robert Foster, who was on the practice squad.
- The Houston Texans are brining back quarterback Jeff Driskel on a one-year deal, per Rapoport. The team previously auditioned Driskel as a tight end. The Texans also are signing former Bengals first-round pick offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi to a one-year contract, per Rapoport. Houston announced it's re-signing wide receiver Davion Davis and offensive linemen Carson Green and Jimmy Morrissey and that it has released defensive back Terrance Mitchell.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars are releasing running back Carlos Hyde, per Rapoport. Jacksonville also extended tenders to the following exclusive rights free agents: pass rusher Jamir Jones, linebacker Chapelle Russell and running back Mekhi Sargent.
- The Las Vegas Raiders signed defensive end Maxx Crosby to a four-year, $98.98 million extension, Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.
- The Miami Dolphins have placed a second-round tender on cornerback Nik Needham.
- The New York Giants announced Friday they have signed offensive lineman Matt Gono and released tight end Kaden Smith.
- The Philadelphia Eagles made Jason Kelce the highest-paid center in the NFL with a one-year, $14 million deal, Rapoport reports.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers are re-signing safety and special teamer Miles Killebrew to a two-year, $4 million contract, per Rapoport.
- The San Francisco 49ers announced they signed linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles to a one-year extension.
- The New Orleans Saints announced that veteran linebacker Craig Robertson is retiring from the NFL after 10 seasons. Robertson began his career with the Browns in 2012 and joined the Saints in 2016. For his career, Robertson totaled 556 tackles, nine sacks and 10 interceptions.