Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson has not been to the team’s facility all offseason, but he will be participating in the team’s OTA’s.
Johnson has not been a part of the team’s offseason program after the Browns signed Kareem Hunt in February. Johnson skipped both the team’s voluntary workouts and voluntary mini-camp.
Since the Hunt signing, Johnson’s name has been floated around in trade rumors. Johnson’s agent also requested a trade before the 2019 NFL Draft, but the Browns appear to have rebuffed the request.
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Both general manager John Dorsey and head coach Freddie Kitchens have stated Johnson will have a vital role in the team’s offense this season. Kitchens has also said he does not care about Johnson’s trade request and wants him to be on his football team.
Even with Hunt on the roster, Johnson does have a chance to play a big part on the offense for the first part of the season. With Hunt suspended for the eight games of the season, Johnson is expected to be the backup behind Nick Chubb to start the season.
Johnson was arguably the team’s best offensive playmaker during his first three seasons in the league. He was making an impact in the running game, but was a dynamic receiver out of the backfield. In 2017, Johnson was Cleveland’s leading receiver.
Johnson’s strong three seasons to start his career helped him land a three-year, $15.61 million contract extension last offseason. The extension made it appear that he will be an integral part of the Browns offense for several years to come.
But last season, Johnson seemed to lose his role in the offense. Johnson’s presence in Todd Haley’s offense was practically nonexistent and was buried on the team’s depth chart. His role increased when Kitchens took over as the offensive playcaller, but still not at the rate as previous seasons.
In 16 games last season, Johnson rushed for 201 yards on 40 carries. He also caught 47 passes for 429 yards and three touchdowns. It was career lows for Johnson in touches and yards.
It remains to be seen if the Browns will receive an offer for Johnson they cannot refuse. But with Johnson showing up for the team’s OTA’s, it seems like the running backs immediate future will be with the orange and brown.