Running back Duke Johnson didn’t show up for the team’s offseason program and wants to be traded, but how will the saga between him and the team end?
There aren’t many players who have been through as much as Duke Johnson since coming into the NFL. Duke is behind only linebacker Christian Kirksey and Joel Bitonio as the longest tenured members of the Cleveland Browns as we prepare to enter the 2019 NFL Season.
For Johnson, who arrived in 2015, that means he was there for a stretch of just four wins in three seasons before the team finally broke through to respectability in 2018. In those four seasons, he has had three head coaches as he began with Mike Pettine before seeing Hue Jackson take over for two and a half season.
Johnson then went through the firing of Jackson and promotion of Gregg Williams. Now, he’s set to play under his fourth coach in just five seasons in Freddie Kitchens. That is if he stays with the Browns.
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Earlier this month, Johnson didn’t report to the offseason program as he was asking to be traded from Cleveland. Johnson’s request is understandable considering he saw his usage drop off in recent seasons despite being one of the few holdovers of the pre-John Dorsey era. Heck, not only was he a holdover, but he was given a new deal by Dorsey.
Unfrontunaly, even with more money, Duke didn’t see the field much. Then in the offseason, Cleveland signed Kareem Hunt who will surely leapfrog Johnson on the depth chart after he serves his eight-game suspension.
Shortly after his request to be moved, it was reported that a few teams were interested. Some possible destinations included the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Jets. While those names were kicked around, nothing seemed to be close to materializing. Which begs the question of when, and how, will this saga end?
The best possible answer as of now is to predict that a deal happens during the NFL draft. The lack of urgency from teams right now suggests that most clubs are content to see how the draft unfolds for them. Each rumored destination for Johnson would have him as a backup and with his contract, teams may be more content to see if they can find a more affordable reserve in the draft.
However, not every team will land their coveted player. What most likely happens in this scenario is one of the rumored teams will miss out on a running back target that they have their hearts set on. Once that happens, they could then decide to pick up the phone and see if Dorsey is willing to take that pick they hoped to use on a running back in exchange for Johnson.
In the end, it likely will be a day three pick which seems like a steal for what Johnson brings to the table. Even with that being the case, it seems like his time in Cleveland is coming to an end and we all may have to say goodbye to a fan favorite during the weekend of the draft.