Browns running back Duke Johnson did not report to the voluntary offseason workouts on Monday and it was later reported that he has requested a trade. There have been rumblings about this throughout the offseason, especially in the wake of finding out that RB Kareem Hunt will be suspended for the first eight games of the season. Duke saw his production decrease last season as he only had 40 rushes and 47 catches, both career lows.
In the two year stretch where the Browns went 1 – 31, Duke was the best offensive weapon the Browns had. However, since GM John Dorsey has come in, the talent level has increased and Duke is now lower on the pecking order. Additionally, the Browns finally have a quarterback who can throw the ball downfield with accuracy and does not need to check down to the backs as often as some of the previous quarterbacks that Duke has played with.
In terms of the cap number, it does not necessarily pay for the Browns to trade him so soon. If he is traded before June 1st then the Browns only save $800,000 as opposed to if he gets traded after June 1st then they will save $2.3 million on the cap. There are of course other considerations besides the money, like how much can the Browns get back in a trade now compared to after June 1st. Additionally, if they want a draft pick or two back for him then they would obviously need to trade him before the draft which begins on Thursday April 25th.
Whether the Browns decide to keep or trade Duke Johnson, they are primed to have a big season thanks to all the acquisitions they have made and the development of QB Baker Mayfield.