The Duke Johnson Jr. saga with the Cleveland Browns is reaching a tipping point.
Johnson — a third down specialist for the Browns — requested a trade after Kareem Hunt was picked up in the offseason, seeing his role in the offensive shrinking to an insignificant size.
When asked by the media about his trade request at minicamp, the fifth-year back maintained his position that he wants out of Cleveland.
“At the end of the day, I understand the nature of the business,” Johnson said. “I understand (general manager) John Dorsey’s job and that’s to do what’s best for the team. If that’s getting rid of me for a bigger piece or a better piece, I’m OK with it.”
“I only want to be somewhere I’m wanted,’’ Johnson continued. “At the end of the day, that’s all this is about, being somewhere you’re wanted. In my case, the moment I’m not wanted anymore, I think it’s best that we find a middle ground and we do what’s best for the team. If you don’t want me here, there’s no need to keep me or force me to be here if you don’t want me here.’’
Johnson issued a post on Instagram Monday with an cryptic caption that might indicate something is on the way.
“I’m not sure what’s ’bout to happen next, I asked for strength from the Lord up above,” Johnson said.
The request has caused a major rift between Johnson and the franchise, most notably quarterback Baker Mayfield.
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Mayfield has been very direct when asked about Johnson wanting out of town, so much so that it even caused 2 Live Crew’s Uncle Luke, also known as Luther Campbell, to go after him on social media.
“It’s not awkward. It’s self-inflicted,” Mayfield said. “I hope he does his job.”
“If someone wants to be here, they’ll be here,” 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 … You’re either on this train or you’re not.
Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens did not hold back either and has repeatedly stated Johnson will have a role.
“He wants to be traded. I want to win the lottery,” Kitchens said. “It doesn’t matter. He’s under contract. He’s a Cleveland Brown he’s going to be used to the best of his ability in what benefits the team.”
Johnson has been with the Browns for his entire career, and even endured the 0-16 season in Cleveland.
Johnson’s numbers dipped last season, partly due the emergence of Nick Chubb and having offensive play callers shuffled midseason.
Johnson, who also spent some time lining up in the slot, had 47 receptions for 429 yards and three touchdowns last season. While he does most of his damage in the passing game, Johnson added 40 carries for 201 yards on the ground.
His number of carries and catches were career lows.
It’s seeming less and less likely that Johnson will be around for training camp next month, although Kitchens has maintained he will have a role in the offense.