The Jacksonville Jaguars have a stud in Travis Etienne but he's not the only running back they can count on to deliver. In fact, the Jags are so deep at the position that Bill Barnwell of ESPN suggests they trade D'Ernest Johnson to the Cleveland Browns before the October 31st deadline.
Barnwell put together a list of trade proposals and one included Jacksonville shipping Johnson to the Browns. Having lost Nick Chubb for the season, Cleveland brought back Kareem Hunt, who spent the last four seasons with them, in September. However, Barnwell points out that Chubb's absence has put a dent in the Browns' ability to run the football. That's where he thinks Johnson can help.
"Johnson just finished a four-year tenure with the Browns in 2022, and while he didn't see much action outside of the 2021 season, he averaged more than 5.0 yards per carry across 147 rushes in Cleveland."
Barnwell suggests the Jags send a seventh-round pick and Johnson to the Browns in exchange for a fifth-rounder. He argues that they would "get more out of the swap than what they're currently getting from Johnson".
All things considered, the Jags could afford to trade Johnson. Travis Etienne is the unquestioned starter and Tank Bigsby, a third-round pick in 2023, will be No. 2 on the roster as long as he doesn't make a glaring mistake. Johnson has only seven carries this season but also contributes on special teams, which could make Jacksonville hesitant to trade him.
That said, Jacksonville would have an adequate replacement for Johnson if they moved on from him. They re-signed JaMycal Hasty, the top backup behind Etienne last year, and he's been a healthy scratch most of the season. Trading Johnson would pave the way for him to start, and if the Jags had injuries at the position, they could elevate sophomore Snoop Conner from the practice squad.
There are pros and cons on the Jaguars trading D'Ernest Johnson
As Bill Barnwell noted, D'Ernest Johnson averaged over 5.0 yards during his four-year stint in Cleveland. He simply had limited opportunities to showcase his talent. Something similar has happened with the Jags but it's telling that he moved up ahead of Hasty and Conner despite the fact that he just joined them this offseason.
Clearly, the Jaguars coaching staff values Johnson. Otherwise, they wouldn't have chosen him over Hasty and Conner. Then again, they would be able to trade him to teams in need of depth at running back if they wanted to. They could probably get a sixth-round pick without having to part ways with a seventh.
Leaving aside the Browns, there are other clubs that would like to bolster their depth at running back. The Los Angeles Rams, the New York Jets, and the Baltimore Ravens could use Johnson. The issue is that he would have a backup role with any of these teams, so it would be a lateral move for him and one that would leave Jacksonville without a low-key solid contributor.
In the end, the Jacksonville Jaguars could entertain trade calls if teams called inquiring about D'Ernest Johnson. However, he provides insurance in case either Travis Etienne or Tank Bigsby misses time, and that may be worth more than a late-round pick.