Duke Johnson Fires Agent, Adding New Wrinkle to Trade Drama

Getty Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson could be huge down the stretch for your fantasy team.

Duke Johnson was ready to make a cut and to go in a different direction.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Johnson, who requested a much-publicized trade from the Cleveland Browns this offseason, has fired his agent Kristin Campbell. The move is not expected to change Johnson’s desire for a ticket out of town, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. 

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.

Johnson signed a lucrative three-year, $15.6 million extension last offseason. His contract value is the 13th highest among running backs, according to Spotrac, just behind Panthers running back Christian McCaffery.

“I am very proud that we were able to secure him a lucrative extension during our time with him,’’ Campbell told Cleveland.com. “We wish him the best.’’

While Johnson is paid like a top back, he doesn’t have the same role, which is the heart of the argument behind his trade request. Johnson had just 87 touches last season, compared to 326 for McCaffery.

Johnson 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.

Duke Johnson’s Trade Request Causes Stir at Minicamp

GettyCleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson Jr.

Johnson did not attend any of the team’s optional offseason workouts, but did show up to mandatory minicamp despite his 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, especially with Hunt suspended for the first eight games of the season.

“I only want to be somewhere I’m wanted,’’ Johnson said. “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.’’

Second-year QB Baker Mayfield ripped Johnson when asked if the veteran back was in an awkward spot during minicamp due to his request.

“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.”

Michael Silver of the NFL Network reported that the comments caused a stir in the Browns locker room. However, wide receiver Jarvis Landry shot that down, calling it a non-issue.

Husband of Johnson’s Agent Slams Mayfield for Comments

Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson Jr.

Campbell is married to 2 Live Crew’s Uncle Luke, also known as Luther Campbell. He took major issue with the way Mayfield answered questions about Johnson’s request.

“F— Baker Mayfield for saying that dumb s— about Duke Johnson,” Campbell tweeted out. “I guarantee you be the one to divide this locker room up. You are not in Texas at Cracker Barrel.”

He continued the barrage on Baker in multiple tweets.

“Hey [Baker Mayfield] this will be my last tweet to you. Brett Favre traded. Joe Montana [traded]. Peyton Manning traded. Drew Brees traded. Dan Marino told to go home. Don’t ever turn on your teammates for management you are not exempt.”

It should be noted, Manning and Brees were not traded, but signed as free agents with new teams. This was probably not a great look for Campbell in the negotiation process.

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