Texans Acquire RB Duke Johnson

The Texans have acquired running back Duke Johnson from the Browns, Cleveland announced today. Houston will send a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick to Cleveland, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. If Johnson is active for 10 games with the Texans, the Browns will receive a 2020 third-rounder, per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Johnson, of course, has been on the trade block ever since the Browns signed former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt earlier this offseason. Hunt won’t be available until the second half of the 2019 season as a result of a suspension, but Johnson nevertheless formally requested a trade in April. At various points, Cleveland has indicated it would keep Johnson on its roster, but after the 25-year-old back fired his agent and hired Drew Rosenhaus, he finally got his wish.

Houston was on the hunt for depth at running back after waiving former third-round pick D’Onta Foreman earlier this week. With Foreman out of the picture, the Texans were planning to use Josh Ferguson and Buddy Howell (who have 30 career carries between them, all Ferguson’s) as Lamar Miller‘s backups.

[RELATED: Full List of 2019 NFL Trades]

Johnson handled 104 rushing attempts during his rookie campaign in Cleveland, but that figure represents a high-water mark. Playing behind Browns starter Nick Chubb in 2018, Johnson managed only 40 attempts, but did post 47 catches and was one of the NFL’s most efficient receiving backs, per Football Outsiders. Since entering the league in 2015, Johnson leads all running backs with 2,170 receiving yards, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link), so he figures to see a good deal of work on third downs and other passing situations.

With Johnson out of the picture, the Browns will rely on unproven options Dontrell Hilliard and D’Ernest Johnson to backup Chubb until Hunt’s suspension is completed. But by dealing Johnson, Cleveland has further added to its stockpile of 2020 draft picks. General manager John Dorsey & Co. now boast 10 picks in 2020, including extra fourth-, sixth-, and seventh-rounders, tweets Pelissero.

The Texans will add Johnson on a highly team-friendly contract. The former third-round pick is due a base salary of just $1.8MM for the 2019 campaign, while he can also collect up to $400K in per-game roster bonuses. Houston will essentially hold club options on Johnson in both 2020 ($3.6MM) and 2021 ($4.65MM), and won’t incur any dead money if it cuts Johnson over the next two years. Cleveland, meanwhile, will immediately take on $750K in dead cap charges by dealing Johnson, with another $1.5MM hitting the club’s books in 2020.

Johnson is only the second running back to be traded this offseason. Jordan Howard was dealt from the Bears to the Eagles in March in a swap that saw Chicago receive just a sixth-round pick that can become a fifth-round pick based on Howard’s performance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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19 comments on “Texans Acquire RB Duke Johnson

  1. Michael Chaney

    I love Duke, but I’m kinda glad the Browns moved on. Get a pick, trade a guy that doesn’t want to be there (he’ll get a better opportunity now too), and even save a little bit of cap space.

    The Browns also really seem to like Dontrell Hilliard, so I think he could be the new pass-catching back and probably get a few carries while Hunt is gone too.

    • 100% agree. I like Duke, he should have been more involved last year and I am glad he’s getting a better opportunity in Houston.

    • CamFrost

      I love when fans don’t kill a guy that gets traded after requesting to get moved. Most fans start hurling insults because someone doesn’t want to play for their team.

    • connfyoozed

      I’m glad to see the positive feelings for Duke. Good player, seems like a good guy off the field, but it was simply time for both him and the Browns to move in. And the Browns really did do him a favor because he landed in a great situation for himself in Houston.

      • playicy

        Duke Johnson is a good player, but in the end you can’t have cancers in your locker room, when your destine or predicting to go somewhere, so it’s a smart move by the browns

        • Duke was far from a cancer. He was very well liked in the locker room and the community. Veterans confronted Baker after his comments about Duke, and rightly so. Both parties (browns and Duke) were in need of new surroundings.

          • playicy

            He didn’t want to be there at all and baker told him off at one time, so no buddy not very one liked him! He’s a cancer

  2. RockHard

    No one is mad at Duke because he’s not a star and he’ll easily be replaced.. If this was OBJ requesting a trade and getting sent out of town they’d want blood..

    • Michael Chaney

      I’m assuming you’re not a Browns fan then.

      Duke was stuck with the Browns during the REALLY low points (like going 1-31), but never missed a game and stuck it out for that team week in and week out. Now there isn’t room for him on the roster, and he deserved to go somewhere he could get a better opportunity. Comparing him to an OBJ situation makes no sense.

      Duke put everything he had into that team, and deserved to go somewhere else. That’s why no one is mad.

  3. Hannibal8us

    I think most fans recognize the awkward position the Browns put Duke in. After being a solid contributor for a few years to get replaced by a woman beating scumbag it’s hard to blame him for wanting to go somewhere that will utilize his talent more.

  4. jjabrony

    No one is mentioning that the Texans likely overpaid by giving a 4th rounder, likely upgraded to a 3rd rounder, for a pass catching skatback. Are the Texans that desperate for another RB? Is their faith in Lamar Miller that low?

    • connfyoozed

      It’s not that they don’t like Miller, it’s that they have no one behind Miller they trust.

  5. nentwigs

    The DUKE is going to Texas, what could be more appropriate?? That’s about the size of it, kid !!

  6. crosseyedlemon

    I don’t like trades where you have to wait for more than a season to see a player face his old teammates. At least Jordan Howard will have a chance this season to show the Bears he still has something.

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