4 free agent running backs the Chargers could sign to back up Austin Ekeler

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
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Tre Flowers, D'Ernest Johnson
Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages

1. D'Ernest Johnson

If there was one free-agent running back that I would want to see the LA Chargers sign above anyone else it would be none other than D'Ernest Johnson. There is a potential hang-up in pursuing Johnson, though, as he is just a restricted free agent this offseason. The Cleveland Browns have the ability to match any deal that Johnson gets and he is not likely to get a big deal.

Spotrac estimates Johnson to get a two-year deal worth $2.6 million per season. That is a minuscule number for a team to match but with their quarterback situation and needing wide receivers, Cleveland could simply let him walk. The team does still have Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, after all.

Johnson would be a great Swiss Army Knife to add to this LA Chargers offense. Johnson's overall numbers were not eye-popping in 2021 but whenever he had to play a bigger role in the Cleveland offense he stepped up the challenge. He proved not only to be a great receiving back but someone who could carry the ball consistently.

Johnson was tabbed as the starter twice in 2021. The first time he carried the ball 22 times for 146 yards and a touchdown with two receptions for 22 yards. The second time he carried the ball 19 times for 99 yards with seven receptions for 58 yards.

Johnson might be a bit redundant with Austin Ekeler but that is why the Bolts draft another running back with one of the compensatory picks. Plus, we see how good Ekeler is in this offense, why not get another back who is similar and could be a better version of Justin Jackson?