No. 4 player the Jaguars must sign before the 2024 free agency: D'Ernest Johnson
The Jaguars have lots of depth at running back heading into the 2023 season. Travis Etienne is firmly entrenched as the starter after a highly productive year but rookie Tank Bigsby should also get lots of playing time. A collegiate start at Auburn, Bigsby showed starting potential in the preseason, averaging 5.7 per carry. But wait, there's more!
The Jaguars also gave JaMycal Hasty a two-year extension in the offseason. Hasty was claimed off waivers before the start of the 2022 season and he became the primary backup at running back once James Robinson was shipped to the New York Jets. Although he's not as dynamic as Etienne, he can come off the bench at any time and deliver.
There's also D'Ernest Johnson, a free-agent pickup earlier this year, who did enough in the preseason to get ahead of Hasty on the depth chart. Johnson, who had to play for the Orlando Apollos of the American Football Alliance before he got a shot in the NFL, adds explosiveness to an already talented backfield.
Even though he won't get nearly as many carries as either Etienne or Bigsby, the running game won't miss a beat if he's on the football field. In three preseason games, he toted the rock 17 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns. That's an average of 5.5 yards per carry. That's consistent with his 5.2-yard career average. On top of that, he can contribute on special teams, so he doesn't have to play on offense to show his worth. He's set to make a bit over $1 million in 2023 and if he comes through, the Jaguars' brass should then consider giving him a pay bump before the season ends.