Former Browns running back decides to retire from the NFL

A third-round pick in 2015, Duke Johnson retires with 5,135 career yards from scrimmage
Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

The career of an NFL running back is never long enough. That was the case for Duke Johnson, the former Cleveland Browns third-round pick, who announced his retirement from the league after playing for eight seasons.

Johnson was taken 77th overall in 2015 out of Miami and spent the first four seasons of his career in Cleveland. He averaged 4.3 yards per rushing attempt with five touchdowns during that time but was more effective as a receiver. Johnson hauled in 235 passes for the Browns and gained 2,170 yards while scoring eight touchdowns.

His tenure with Cleveland came to an end in 2019 when he was famously called out by Baker Mayfield when he requested a trade. Mayfield said Johnson's situation was "self-inflicted" alluding to him missing time in the offseason, which allowed Dontrell Hilliard to steal some of his reps.

Eventually, Johnson got his request and was sent to the Houston Texans in exchange for a third-round pick. That might have been the biggest fleece of John Dorsey's tenure as the Browns GM got maximum value for a third-down back.

Duke Johnson was Browns lone star on offense for three dark years

Out of football in 2023, Johnson ended his career with 97 games played and a total of 5,135 yards from scrimmage. 2,265 yards were on the ground while 2,870 came through the air. Johnson also had 23 total touchdowns.

He had one good season in Houston, gaining 820 yards from scrimmage in 2019. For Cleveland, however, he put up three very solid years during some of their darkest times.

From 2015 through 2017, Cleveland won just four games — three of which came in 2015. They had hardly any talent on the offensive side of the ball, which is why fans gravitated toward Johnson. He had at least 872 yards from scrimmage in each of those seasons, including 1,041 during their winless 2017 campaign.

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