Although Browns running back Duke Johnson has requested a trade, and Cleveland is believed to have shopped him, there’s seemingly no guaranteed he will be moved, as head coach Freddie Kitchens indicated to Tony Grossi of ESPN.com. “Duke’s under contract. I’ve said this for a month now, I don’t know where all this trade talk started happening,” said Kitchens. “People just assumed we would trade him because we signed another good football player [Kareem Hunt]. I like good football players, and I like as many as I can get.
“At this point in time, him asking for a trade doesn’t matter to me. He’s a Cleveland Brown. Duke’s the type of the guy who’s going to show up and he’s going to do his job and he’s going do his job well. That’s all I can ask for as a coach. His demands, I’m not impacted by that one bit.”
Hunt is suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season, so the Browns will need a back to play behind starter Nick Chubb. Johnson, 25, is under contract through 2021 thanks to the three-year, $15.6MM extension he signed last summer. While he handled only 40 carries a year ago, Johnson managed 47 catches and was one of the NFL’s most efficient receiving backs, per Football Outsiders.
Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:
- Defensive tackle Damon Harrison isn’t participating in the Lions‘ offseason program, but his absence isn’t related to his request for a new contact, general manager Bob Quinn told Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. “The offseason program is voluntary,” Quinn said. “We have different guys, in different stages and different things in their lives, just like we have every year. So, Damon hasn’t been here the last couple of weeks, but we’ve communicated with him, talked to him multiple times and I’m sure we’ll see him here soon.” Harrison, whom the Lions acquired from the Giants last year in exchange for a fifth-round pick, has two years remaining on his current deal, with cap charges north of $7MM in each season.
- The Ravens were attempting to sign Arizona defensive tackle P.J. Johnson to an undrafted free agent deal when he was selected by the Lions with the 229th overall pick, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “It was kind of funny,” Johnson said. “I tried to be as polite as possible,” Johnson said, “but get off fast: ‘Excuse me, but the Lions are calling. I’ve got to go.’ ” Baltimore did not have a selection after No. 197, so the club would have had to trade back up (using 2020 capital) in order to land Johnson.
- Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis surprisingly went undrafted before reportedly inking a UDFA deal with the Ravens, and his fall was likely caused by a few off-field issues, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes. Willis allegedly got into an altercation with Skyler Mornhinweg (son of ex-Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg) before being dismissed at Florida, while some former Miami coaches also bad-mouthed Willis, per Zrebiec. The current Hurricanes staff, however, praised Willis.