The Cleveland Browns recently made it clear that they would not be pursuing Kareem Hunt to return to the team for a fifth season. They also had third-string running back D’Ernet Johnson leaves the team in free agency, signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With Nick Chubb at times struggling to make it through a full season due to injury, it is clear that the Browns need to find a quality option in their backup spot.
The first option would be Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott would likely be too costly, however, he has a history in Ohio through his time with the Ohio State Buckeyes. At that time, Elliott became one of the most beloved athletes in the state, and he would likely receive the same treatment if he were to sign with the Browns.
The only way that this could work for both sides would be if Elliott were to take a slight hometown discount and would be open to a backup role. However, if a contract could be negotiated, Cleveland would once again have the top running back rotation in the league. Along with this Elliott would be able to likely extend his career by a few years with the reduction in carries.
If the Browns are seeking to sign a cheaper free agent, Jerick McKinnon would be an incredible option. With Isiah Pacheco emerging as the lead back in Kansas City, McKinnon could find a new home in Cleveland. He would be an incredible complimentary piece to Nick Chubb in the backfield as McKinnon has had success as a receiving back.
However, if Chubb goes down with an injury and McKinnon would be forced to start, he is more than capable of getting the job done on the ground as well. If the Browns go the free agency route, McKinnon would likely be the most probable solution.
The final option would be skipping free agency and giving second-year back Jerome Ford a chance. Ford spent some time on the return team last year in Cleveland, however, with the log jam at the running back position, he was unable to get much of a chance on offense.
Ford was a very talented back during his collegiate stint in Cincinnati and has a very similar build to Chubb. If he serves as the team’s backup, he could turn the heads of a large majority of the league this season.
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