When the NFL offseason rolls around, the combination of free agency and trade rumors can make your head spin for days. And whenever a new name gets added to the mix, it creates plenty of speculation and chatter. So when the Cleveland Browns appeared to be open to trading running back Duke Johnson following the addition of Kareem Hunt, things began ramping up.
The first piece of info on this report came from Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, who cited that “at least three NFL teams” had interest in adding Johnson. Shortly after that, Andy Slater of 640 The Hurricane pointed to the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys having interest.
But these two reports came over 10 days ago, and since that point, there’s been very little chatter around a potential trade. So the question becomes, how legitimate is the interest from the two teams, and specifically the Cowboys?
Question Marks on Cowboys’ Interest in Duke Johnson
Shortly after the reports were made public, Mike Fisher of 247Sports.com stated that, at the time, the Cowboys had not reached out to the Browns about Johnson.
A Cowboys source confirms to me Dallas’ wishes to find running back help in the form of an upgrade from Rod Smith, who is a free agent. But no, the Cowboys have not so much as made a call of inquiry to the Browns on Johnson.
This was back on March 5 and Fisher said that the Cowboys were not one of the original three teams to reach out about the running back. This doesn’t mean that things haven’t changed, but at that point, it seemed the belief was simply that Dallas would make a great fit for Johnson, who could make for a nice pairing with star Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield.
Should Cowboys Pursue Duke Johnson?
There are a few arguments to be made for why adding Johnson makes sense for the Cowboys. His contract isn’t bad, as it features cap hits of $3.05, $4.85 and $5.9 million over the next three seasons, per Spotrac. In turn, the team wouldn’t be breaking the bank for a player who has flashed decent upside as a runner and major talent as a pass-catcher.
Through his first four seasons, Johnson has totaled 1,286 rushing yards with five touchdowns on 4.3 yards per carry. But his talent as a pass-catcher stands out, as he’s hauled in 235 receptions for 2,170 yards and eight scores over that stretch. The 25-year-old has the ability to add another dimension to the Cowboys offense while allowing the team to give Elliott plays off a bit more moving forward.
At the very least, it’s worth looking into and gauging what the deal may cost. If Dallas doesn’t have to break the bank, there’s no reason they shouldn’t kick the tires on the idea.