Running back Duke Johnson is clearly not happy with the Cleveland Browns, but the organization does not want to set a precedent with a trade.
The Cleveland Browns and running back Duke Johnson have been at a crossroads for the past several weeks. Johnson has requested a trade from the Browns after seeing his role with the team disappear, but the Browns have seemed to ignore the request.
Not only did Johnson have fewer touches last season, but the Browns also signed Kareem Hunt this offseason, making it even more likely Johnson loses more touches in 2019. So as he saw his potential role decrease, he wanted to get a chance with another team.
But despite Johnson’s representatives requesting a trade and the running back missing most of the team’s offseason program, Browns general manager John Dorsey and head coach Freddie Kitchens have made it known they plan on having Johnson on the roster for the 2019 season.
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The belief was that Johnson would have been traded at this point, but the Browns have held firm that they will only trade him if they believe they are getting fair compensation. And according to Terry Pluto of cleveland.com, the Browns are in no rush to trade Johnson, partly because they do not want to set a precedent.
"What the Browns don’t want to do is set a precedent of trading a player simply because the player is unhappy about something. But as Baker Mayfield said bluntly, Johnson needs to “get on the train or get off.” – Pluto, Cleveland.com"
Johnson has made it clear that there is nothing that will repair the relationship with the Browns that would make him want to stay. But the Browns hope that by not trading Johnson, it will make it less likely players in the future who are upset with their roles will try to force a trade.
Players forcing trades is typical in the NFL, but it is usually the top players in the league who are disgruntled that force those types of trades. In Johnson’s case, it is not a terrible scenario for the Browns to keep an upset role player to avoid setting a precedent.
The Browns may decide to hold onto Johnson for the first part of the season while Hunt serves his eight-game suspension, and then trade Johnson closer to the trade deadline. It remains a question of if Johnson would become a distraction at that point and if he would be playing at maximum effort.
By the time training camp rolls around and teams deal with potential injuries, the market for Johnson may heat up. But as things currently stand, it does not seem like there is a big enough market for the Browns to move Johnson.