CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns have agreed to trade running back Duke Johnson Jr. to the Houston Texans.
Hours before kicking off the preseason tonight against the Washington football team at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, the Browns confirmed news that they traded Johnson Jr. to the Texans. In exchange for versatile running back, the Browns received an undisclosed selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The parting of the ways between the Browns and Johnson Jr. came just two weeks after coach Freddie Kitchens said he would have a “significant role in our offense” during the 2019 season.
Johnson Jr.’s future with the Browns had been the topic of much debate and discussion since the organization signed controversial running back Kareem Hunt in early February, and the questions grew louder when he elected not to show up for the voluntary portion of the offseason program.
After reiterating during mandatory minicamp his desire to be traded, Johnson Jr. parted ways with his former agent and hired well-known representative Drew Rosenhaus, who successfully negotiated a release from the Browns for Breshad Perriman after hours after signing him to a contract once they acquired Odell Beckham Jr. in a trade with the New York Giants.
After leading the Browns with 74 catches during the 2017 season, Johnson Jr. caught just 47 passes and got 40 carries. Despite the lightened workload, Johnson Jr. averaged a career-high 5.0 yards per carry and matched a single-season personal best with three touchdown receptions.
Selected in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft after a record-setting career with the University of Miami, Johnson Jr. has rushed for 1,286 yards and five touchdowns with 71 first downs and five 20-yard bursts on 299 carries over 64 games in his four years with the Browns.
Johnson Jr. has turned 235 catches into 2,170 yards, eight touchdowns, 29 20-yard plays, two 40-yard efforts and 103 first downs.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield was outspoken about his disapproval of Johnson Jr.’s trade request, and while he toned down his comments early in training camp, the message was the same.
“We want guys who want to win,” Mayfield said on the first day of camp. “We want guys who want to be here to work with each other.
“The goals should absolutely be that high. We know and we have to emphasize that to get there, you have to take it one week at a time and one game at a time. Right now, it is training camp and we have to take it one day at a time. Just work on the little things right now to get to that ultimate goal.”