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Running back D’Ernest Johnson agreed to a one-year contract Saturday to return to the Cleveland Browns in restricted free agency.
Johnson’s agents, Drew Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal is worth up to $2.4 million with more than $900,000 guaranteed.
The 26-year-old Johnson has been with the Browns since they signed him in 2019.
After starring at South Florida, Johnson’s first foray into professional football was as a member of the Alliance of American Football’s Orlando Apollos in 2019.
He impressed and parlayed that into a deal with the Browns, which led to his making the team in 2019 out of training camp.
While active for all 16 games in each of his first two seasons, Johnson was used sparingly. That changed last season because running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt missed time with injuries.
Johnson started two of the 17 games he appeared in and rushed for a career-high 534 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
He also set career marks with 19 receptions for 137 yards.
Cleveland figures to pass more this season following the acquisition of quarterback Deshaun Watson, but the running game has been a huge part of the Browns’ recent success.
With Chubb, Hunt and Johnson behind an elite offensive line, Cleveland can wear down opposing defenses more effectively than almost any other team in the league.
Johnson should be part of that unit again in 2022, but he will remain third on the depth chart.