The Eagles claimed former Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson on waivers Friday.
The Lions waived Johnson Thursday, three years after drafting him in the second round from Auburn. They drafted Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson in the seventh round last weekend, to add to a group that includes 2020 second-round draftee D’Andre Swift, from St. Joseph’s Prep, along with free-agent signee Jamaal Williams, formerly of the Packers.
Johnson, 23, struggled to overcome a left knee injury as a rookie and a right knee injury his second season. He played in all 16 games in 2020, gaining 181 yards on 52 carries (3.5 yards per carry) and catching 19 passes for 187 yards. He saw most of his action last season on third down.
The Eagles will start their spring work with Miles Sanders, fifth-round rookie Kenny Gainwell, Jordan Howard, Johnson, and Boston Scott all part of the running back rotation. Howard, Gainwell, and Johnson have all joined the group in the last month or so.
Taking on the last year of Johnson’s rookie deal will cost the Eagles $1,366,869 of their $4.8 million available salary cap room, according to Overthecap.com. An expected trade or release of tight end Zach Ertz after June 1 would add about $8.5 million in space.
In the draft, scouts liked Johnson’s physical style and his quick feet, but they wondered if his slim-hipped build would hold up in the NFL. It’s unclear if he can regain the burst he had before the knee injuries.