The current 2022 Cleveland Browns running back room is a little crowded right now. Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson, Demetric Felton and Jerome Ford. If you add fullback Johnny Stanton that’s six. In 2020, GM Andrew Berry’s first year, the Browns’ final 53-man roster had three running backs (Chubb, Hunt and Johnson) and one fullback (Andy Janovich). That year the Browns broke camp with five tight ends. In 2021, the team’s final 53-man roster had four running backs (Chubb, Hunt, Johnson, Felton) and again one fullback (Janovich). That year, Felton split time between running back and wide receiver and the Browns started the season with five wide receivers.
The locks to make the roster are Nick Chubb and Jerome Ford. Ford was drafted to replace Kareem Hunt next year and Nick Chub is, well, Nick Chubb. Demetric Felton brings valuable special teams experience as well as a receiver option, whether he’s in motion or lined up in the slot. Last year the offense really suffered when Kareem Hunt wasn’t in the lineup. When both are healthy, Chubb and Hunt are offensively dynamic. That leaves D’Ernest Johnson as the odd man out. Both he and Hunt are in the last year of their contracts. The Browns won’t keep two players on the roster in that situation. One has to be traded.
Of the two, Hunt is more valuable to the Browns offense. He can block, catch the ball out of the backfield and line up wide at receiver. Johnson isn’t the greatest receiver and his blocking is suspect, but he is the perfect backup for this team. He would be a starter on a few NFL teams. Looking at their contracts, trading Hunt would bring the greater cap space. There would be no dead money and the cap savings would be $6.250 million. Johnson’s contract is structured so if he’s traded, the Browns would only carry $151,000 in dead money and have cap savings of $1,065,000.
Based on the off-season comments about making the passing game more explosive by both GM Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski, my guess is the Browns will carry four running backs. Chubb, Hunt, Ford and Felton. Johnny Stanton will be placed on the practice squad and Johnson will be traded. Stanton may make the final roster to help the running game if QB Deshaun Watson is suspended. The above running back room gives the Browns the best opportunity for an explosive offense with or without Watson.