Duke Johnson and the Cleveland Browns have agreed to a contract extension late Thursday afternoon. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport, the deal is worth $15.6 million and comes with a $5 million signing bonus.
The Browns have done a lot of work to upgrade the running back room. The Browns opted not to bring back Isaiah Crowell, who was formerly the Browns’ lead running back. Carlos Hyde was added via free agency and at the time was thought to have been the replacement for Crowell. On draft night, John Dorsey pulled the trigger and drafted Nick Chubb in the 2nd round with the 35th pick.
Hyde was signed to a 3 year, $15.2 million deal as one of the Browns key off-season free agent signings. The Browns will have an out with Hyde next season and can cut him without losing out on too much of a cap hit. This would allow for the backfield to be led by Chubb and Johnson.
Johnson is now the 8th-highest paid running back in the NFL. The Browns currently roster the 8th and 10th highest paid running backs. Throw in Chubb’s $1.2 million and we easily have the most expensive running backs room in the NFL.
The Browns have found every way possible to try and use Johnson. The one thing that held him back is the inconsistent touches week in and week out in the ground game. He was the Browns best and sometimes the only option in the passing game. Johnson led the team in targets (93), receptions (74), receiving yards (693) and total touchdowns (7).
Johnson has been the lone bright spot in the offense and should be even more explosive with more talent around him. When trying to think about how Johnson will find snaps with the other two Hyde and Chubb, you must remember Todd Haley is now calling the plays. Haley made a living with feeding Le’Veon Bell and allowing him to make plays by getting him the ball in space. Space is where Johnson is at his best allowing him to use his elusiveness to make defenders miss and create the big play.
Overall, I could not be more happy for the Browns to be able to have the core of Hyde, Johson and Chubb for the foreseeable future. I am sure the salaries will come in to play and Hyde or Johnson will be a cap casualty but we will get to enjoy it while we have it.