Browns must work out a new deal with Duke Johnson
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns are reportedly talking about a new contract with running back Duke Johnson, who has been the team’s best offensive player the past three years.
The good times continued for the Cleveland Browns on Monday, this time courtesy of the NFL Network’s Michael Silver.
Silver posted a Tweet during the day saying that the Browns and running back Duke Johnson are working on a new contract:
There is absolutely no reason for the Browns to not get something done with Johnson, who has been the team’s most consistent offensive player since being selected in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Miami.
While inexplicably not a big part of the running game, Johnson has averaged 4.6 yards per carry the past two seasons. Where he has made his mark is in the passing game.
In his three seasons with the Browns, Johnson has amassed 188 receptions – good enough to move in 25th place on the franchise’s all-time list – and 1,741 yards. He was the team’s leading receiver last season with 74 receptions, a franchise record for a running back in a single season. He also became just the ninth player in team history to record more than 70 receptions in a single season.
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That might surprise the casual fan who is not aware of Johnson, but it shouldn’t. Johnson was a First-Team All-ACC selection in 2014 and left Miami as the school’s all-time leading rusher, so what he has done with the Browns has simply been a continuation of his production in college.
Johnson has averaged 942 yards from scrimmage with the Browns, a figure that would be higher if he was used more. With a catch rate of 78 percent, if the Browns threw the ball to Johnson 142 times a season, the way the Miami Dolphins did with wide receiver Jarvis Landry the past four seasons, then Johnson would be posting more than 110 catches and more than 1,000 yards a season.
Of course, with those kind of numbers, it could be argued that Johnson is worth $16 million a year, which is something that general manager John Dorsey probably doesn’t want to talk about.
Having Johnson on the field with wide receivers Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman and Jarvis Landry, along with tight end David Njoku, has the potential to cause significant problems for opposing defenses this fall.
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For a team that has bemoaned its “lack of playmakers” in recent years, the Browns need to do whatever it takes to work out a fair contract extension with Johnson, who has only proved to be the most-productive and most-reliable playmaker on offense.