Duke Johnson Requests Trade From Browns

It appears the Browns and Duke Johnson will part ways in the near future. Already believed to be on the trade block, Duke Johnson has submitted a request to be moved, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports.

Since the Browns signed Kareem Hunt, the Jets, Texans and Eagles have been interested in Johnson, Cabot adds. Johnson did not show for the first day of the Browns’ offseason program.

When the Browns brought in Hunt, John Dorsey initially said Johnson was not yet a candidate to be moved. Hunt since incurred an eight-game suspension, making backfield depth paramount. But the Browns have been ruthless in moving on from talent acquired under previous regimes. Kevin Zeitler, Jabrill Peppers, Derrick Kindred and Emmanuel Ogbah have been the latest to go. Johnson, a third-round pick during the Ray Farmer regime, has been Cleveland’s passing-down back for four seasons.

Dorsey said recently he has not spoken to Johnson, but Cabot makes it clear the running back’s representatives have spoken to other Browns execs with the intention of being traded.

First-year HC Freddie Kitchens said Johnson would have a role alongside Nick Chubb, even after Hunt returns. But as Cabot points out, Odell Beckham Jr.’s arrival will likely push Jarvis Landry inside more often, decreasing the opportunities for Johnson to work in the slot. His lack of touches last season was already a point of contention, per Cabot.

I don’t know why it’s assumed that we’re going to trade Duke Johnson,” Kitchens said. “I don’t know why we would ever want to, like, just voluntarily give up a good football player. Duke Johnson is a good football player. Duke Johnson will have a role on our football team. All these guys that are here will have a role. I don’t know when it just became a necessity to trade Duke Johnson because we signed Kareem Hunt.”

The 25-year-old back is signed to a team-friendly three-year, $15.6MM contract. He is signed through 2021. Despite playing in 16 games, Johnson saw his scrimmage-yards total plummet from 1,041 in 2017 to 630 last season. His touches dropped from 156 in 2017 to 87 last year. The former Miami Hurricane still leads all running backs in receiving yardage (2,170) since entering the league (h/t ESPN’s Field Yates, on Twitter).

In signing Le’Veon Bell, the Jets already paid a premium for a pass-catching back. The Eagles just traded for Jordan Howard, but he has not been a prolific receiver. And Darren Sproles may or may not be retiring. The Texans just lost Alfred Blue to the Jaguars and were without D’Onta Foreman for much of last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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27 comments on “Duke Johnson Requests Trade From Browns

  1. Eagles are out, but Duke would be great for the Jets. Make their offense even better.

    • koldjerky

      No way. I think the Eagles could definitely grab duke and would be smart to. Let sproles retire and go with a Howard, ClementJohnson backfield.

      • Tampadelphia Ed

        Agreed. Let Sproles retire and trade for Johnson. He’s a better fit for the Eagles than Howard. Keep em both.

  2. I’ll be sorry to see him go. He was a star when the Browns had nothing. Now he’s being overshadowed by flashier players. Wish him nothing but the best

    • connfyoozed

      I’m a Steeler fan but I agree on all counts. Much respect for Duke, he’s a very good player who has been versatile and done whatever the team has asked him to do. I also think I remember that he was one of the first, if not the first, player from another team who publicly expressed best wishes and support for Ryan Shazier when he had his gruesome injury, and that it was well received by Steeler players and fans alike.

    • teezilla

      Was thinking the same thing – they have no draft capital though … not sure what Duke will cost but maybe the Eagles pick they got for Howard could work?

    • maximumvelocity

      He would duplicate Cohen. He’s not a strong inside runner and not a workhorse.

  3. playicy

    U need to keep duke Johnson til at least hunt comes back, because if u trade him u don’t got a back up for Chubb until week 9 of the season when hunt is back from suspension, so this would be a very bad idea for the browns

    • I think the browns are high on the 3rd RB. Hilliard I think his name is. He can catch pretty well and I thought it was pretty obvious from the usage last year that Chubb was going to get 80% of the PT and touches out of the backfield.

  4. The Ghost of Bobby Bonilla

    Duke is great. He can catch a ton of passes out of the backfield, rush for 100 on any given week and fits well on almost any team. Basically a poor man’s LeVeon Bell, with similar skills.

    Whichever team gets him will be picking up the steal of the offseason – this coming from a Steelers fan.

    • Rush for 100 on any given week? He has never rushed for 100 in a game in his career.

      • The Ghost of Bobby Bonilla

        He averaged 4.3 yard per carry. It went up to 5.0 YPC in 2018.

        Yes, give him a role as a primary back with 20 to 30 carries a game, and he likely rushes for over 100 YPG quite often. Not to mention the 9+ yards per catch he averages out of the backfield.

  5. Drew22

    He would make a lot of sense in a Vikings uniform, but unfortunately they have no money. It will be interesting to see how they fill the holes in their roster with such minimal cap space.

  6. This sucks, but I understand why he wants to be traded. He’s a really good football player. Very underutilized and it’s pretty obvious he’s going to be replaced by Hunt. Why even deal with it if you are Duke… good luck to you Duke Johnson, you deserve better from this FO.

  7. DDub22

    Duke Johnson is the all time leading rusher and #2 all purpose yards at Miami university a rich tradition of RB’s lol. The guy isn’t huge but not tiny either. Goes to the Browns during darkest of years, never I feel was given a fair shot at being the true #1. Did everything he was asked. Now I read comments from us normal people and big dogs that get paid saying just a receiving back.

    Ok hue Jackson was coach 1st off they went what 3-45 under him lol. So to say the way he was used in Cleveland is just a receiving back or versatile weapon blah blah blah……give him a coach that gives him 20 touches a game and watch Duke become a Ray Rice clone…..#theU

  8. crosseyedlemon

    Sounds like Freddy was left out of the loop on this development. The Browns are going to need both him and Dorsey on the same page to achieve their goals for this season.

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