Duke Johnson Jr. isn’t making any new friends at Cleveland Browns training camp.
The disgruntled running back, who requested a trade from the Browns in the offseason, was in an altercation on the first day of training camp practice on Thursday.
Rookie linebacker Sione Takitaki came in a little too hot in a 9 on 7 drill, bumping Johnson a little more than he anticipated in the no-pad practice. They exchanged words and had to be separated before practice moved along.
That’s not to say that Johnson isn’t getting some support at the camp. Every time the running back has touched the ball, the sold out training camp crowd has yelled his name, according to The News Herald reporter Jeff Schudel.
Duke Johnson Wants Trade From Browns
Johnson requested a trade this offseason after seeing his role in the offense shrink when the Browns signed free agent running back Kareem Hunt. However, Hunt is suspended for the first eight games of the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, which stems from an incident where disturbing video of him kicking and shoving a woman in a hotel was made public.
That makes Johnson a key piece for the first half of the season as the Browns look to match the sky-high expectations that have been set for them. Next behind him on the depth chart is second-year former undrafted free agent Dontrell Hilliard.
Johnson fired his agent this offseason following a drama-filled minicamp, and hired super agent Drew Rosenhaus to get his request of a trade fulfilled. Browns general manager John Dorsey said that he and Johnson’s representation had a good talk before camp opened.
“Drew and I had a conversation (Tuesday) — a very good conversation,” Dorsey told reporters. “We had a chance to discuss each other’s sides. I had a chance to state my opinions, he had a chance to state his opinions. This is the first day of training camp and it looks like Duke is here. So he’s reported to training camp.”
The Trade Value of Duke Johnson Jr.
Johnson likely won’t fetch a king’s ransom in a trade. Even running backs with a better resumes than the Browns’ veteran only fetch late-round picks.
If there’s a historic comparison, it’s the trade in 2014 between the Eagles and Saints for Darren Sproles. While he was a bit older at the time, Sproles was coming off a year with the Saints that he caught 71 balls for 604 yards. He also rushed for 220 yards on just 54 carries. He made the Pro Bowl in Philly the year following the trade.
Last season, Johnson had 47 receptions for 429 yards and three touchdowns. Like Sproles, he does most of his damage in the passing game. Johnson had 40 carries for 201 yards on the ground and both his number of carries and catches were career lows.
Both Dorsey and Kitchens have maintained that the Browns are not in the business of “giving away” good players, and with Johnson having signed a lucrative three-year extension last offseason, Cleveland holds all the cards on what happens next.
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