The Cleveland Browns may have been playing hardball with the Duke Johnson situation, but that may not be the case anymore.
Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson has hired Drew Rosenhaus and Roshenaus Sports as his new representation, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, just days after splitting from his previous agent.
For the Browns, Johnson hiring Rosenhaus as his agent could create some problems and ultimately ruin some of their potential plans for the running back.
Johnson has made it clear that he wants out of Cleveland after the Browns signed Kareem Hunt in February. Hunt’s signing would take a large chunk out of Johnson’s playing time once Hunt returns from suspension.
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After already seeing a decrease in playing time last season, it became pretty clear that Johnson would not be satisfied with his new situation. He made that evident when he requested a trade on April 1 and did not show up for any of the team’s voluntary workouts.
Johnson did show up for the team’s mandatory workouts, but said during that time he still wants to be traded and there would be no reconciling with the Browns. But he also said that he would be giving the organization his best for as long as he remains on the roster. And that likely meant he would be with the team for training camp and the regular season despite wanting to be traded.
However, now that Rosenhaus is his agent, the odds of him being fully committed to the Browns has dwindled. Rosenhaus and his agency are known to do whatever they need to in order to satisfy their clients’ demands. Rosenhaus’ clients have shown they are willing to holdout to increase their chances of getting whatever they desire, whether it be more money, a new contract, or a trade.
With Johnson hiring Rosenhaus, it is hard to imagine Johnson being on the field for the Browns to start the regular season, even if he is on the roster. Johnson holding out seems like the most likely option in this situation.
The Browns may have been planning to wait until the trade deadline to move Johnson so they would have a viable backup behind Nick Chubb to start the season. Hunt returns shortly after the trade deadline, so the timing would work well for the Browns.
Even if the Browns were planning on trading Johnson before the season, the expectation of Johnson holding out until he is traded hurts any trade value he had left. Cleveland may have planned to hold onto Johnson to show they will not trade him for anything less than what they feel is a fair deal.
But because teams may get the sense that Johnson will not play another down for the Browns if he holds out, they could offer less than what the Browns want. And if the Browns know Johnson will not play for them anymore, they could be motivated to get whatever the best return for Johnson they are offered.
Before Johnson’s change in agents, it seemed like the situation had calmed down and they could end up reaching a resolution that works for both sides. But with Rosenhaus now representing Johnson, the Browns may not be getting the solution to the situation they were expecting.