Cleveland Browns: Browns need to figure out Duke Johnson situation
By Dan Justik
The Cleveland Browns and Duke Johnson have been working on a contract extension this offseason, but to no avail so far. But the Browns front office needs to get the situation figured out before it ends up hurting the team.
Every year, problems always arise between a player and his team. Mostly because the two sides can never agree on a new contract for the player. That type of situation is starting to play out for the Cleveland Browns and running back Duke Johnson.
To the knowledge of most Browns fans at this point, Johnson is in the final year of his rookie contract. There has been talk about a contract extension for Johnson, but the two sides have been unable to agree on the money.
Johnson has been the most dynamic player on the Browns offense in his three seasons with the team. He proved that point last year, as he rushed 348 yards and four touchdowns on only 82 attempts. But he also led the team in receiving yards with 693, and he also chipped in three touchdowns with 64 receptions.
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But his versatility is what is likely making the contract negotiations a problem. The team will probably want to pay him for being a good running back that has the versatility to catch the ball.
Johnson will likely want to be paid more than what the Browns are offering because of how much he can do as a receiver. He is not just a running back that can catch the ball, he has the talent that could make him a good number two receiver.
A similar situation is playing out in Pittsburgh with the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell. Bell has now been given the franchise tag the past two years by the Steelers because the two sides can not agree on a long-term contract.
Bell is arguably the best running back in the NFL, but is also a gifted receiver. He wants to be given ‘wide receiver’ money because of how much he does as a receiver.
Because of the problems with the negotiations the last two years, some have described the relationship between Bell and the Steelers as ‘fractured.’
For the Browns, they can not let Johnson’s situation reach that point. Although Bell and Johnson are two different caliber of players, their situations are very similar.
Cleveland does not often find players with the dynamic talent of Johnson. It would be foolish of them to have contract negotiations carry on for too long, causing a bad relationship to form and Johnson not wanting to sign with the team anymore.
Not having a contract for the next season could affect Johnson’s play. A player that knows he is playing for a contract can try to do too much and cause him to make mistakes, thus hurting his play. The Browns can not afford to have one of their most talented players making mistakes on the field with how much the team needs to start winning games.
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The reason the Browns are always one of the worst teams in the league is they do not take advantage of their talented players, and causing that player to want to move on from the team at the end of their contracts. If the new Browns new front office wants to turn this franchise around, signing Johnson to an extension and keeping him in Cleveland will be a big step towards that.