Johnson — a veteran third-down specialist for the Browns — requested a trade this offseason after the team picked up Pro Bowl back Kareem Hunt in free agency. With the addition of Hunt and the continued improvement of second-year back Nick Chubb, Johnson saw his role in the backfield shrinking to an insignificant size.
Johnson has hinted at the trade drama on social media this offseason, previously posting on Instagram a photo of him with the caption, “I’m not sure what’s ’bout to happen next ,I asked for strength from the Lord up above.”
The latest clues from Johnson comes in the form of a pair of retweets that might be expressing how the fifth-year back feels about his current situation.
Johnson removed all references to the Browns from social media earlier this offseason. The former third-round pick out of the University of Miami signed a three-year extension with the team in 2018 worth $15.6 million, with $7.74 million guaranteed.
Duke Johnson Jr. Stands Behind Trade Request
At minicamp, Johnson maintained his request and said his request for a ticket out of town was more based off respect than anything else, saying that the team put him on the trading block before he asked to be sent to a new team. Head coach Freddie Kitchens said this was not the case and plans for Johnson to have a role this season.
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The team has also had to deal with issues stemming from the request because of comments quarterback Baker Mayfield made.
Mayfield ripped Johnson when asked if Johnson was in an awkward spot during minicamp.
“It’s not awkward. It’s self-inflicted,” Mayfield said. “I hope he does his job.
“Obviously, he’s going to handle his stuff how he wants, but you’re either on this train or you’re not. It’s moving. You can get out of the way or you can join us. So it is what it is,” Mayfield added. “You got guys in our locker room that are dying to get playing time and dying to be here. Duke has been here for years but it’s about what are you doing right now.”
The comments reportedly caused an issue in the locker room between Mayfield and the veterans, although wide receiver Jarvis Landry said that wasn’t the case. He believes Mayfield and Johnson can still co-exist in the same backfield.
“I don’t think it would be difficult at all,” Landry told Cantonrep.com during comments made at his youth football camp last week. “I say to you it’s a non-issue, and it’s not one that we are feeling any particular way about. It’s something that is being blown up from [the media] more than it really is. No offense [to reporters who cover the Browns]. I didn’t mean it like that.”