For years, the Detroit Lions have struggled to establish a rushing attack in the Motor City. That after investing three second-round selections into the running back position since 2015. Now, it’s being reported that one of those high draft picks is being released.
On Wednesday night, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Lions are waiving running back Kerryon Johnson. The Lions’ second-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Auburn struggled to stay healthy in Detroit but is actually coming off his first 16-game season.
With the presence of rookie D’Andre Swift and veteran Adrian Peterson on the depth chart last year, Johnson started just two games in 2020. Over his first two seasons in Motown, Kerryon missed a total of 14 games due to knee injuries which made him an unreliable workhorse for the run-needy Pride.
Johnson burst on the scene as a rookie in 2018 rushing for 641 yards and three touchdowns as a seven-game starter. He posted an impressive 5.4 yards per carry average, giving both the team and fans hope he could become a dominant rusher in his second season.
Unfortunately, Johnson played just eight games during his sophomore run, averaging a mere 3.6 yards per carry. That led to the Lions drafting Swift the following year.
Still, Johnson brought significant value to the Lions as the team’s best pass protector in the backfield. And despite his limited usage last year, he was still able to post 181 rushing yards, 19 receptions for 187 receiving yards, and three total touchdowns. He also contributed on special teams.
Entering the final year of his rookie deal in Detroit, Johnson was scheduled to make $1.3 million in base salary with a cap hit just north of $2 million in 2021. That according to OverTheCap.com.
Perhaps the front office viewed Kerryon Johnson’s release as an opportunity to incur some savings, especially with D’Andre Swift and free-agent acquisition Jamaal Williams sitting atop the depth chart and considering the recent seventh-round selection of Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson over the weekend.