As many of you already know, Duke Johnson Jr. just showed up to minicamp and personally made it known on camera that he still wants to be traded:
I was one of the people that genuinely felt like the Browns could have still used Duke, but now he has ruined that chance. I understand why he is upset. He has been through all of the lows with Cleveland and as the light began to shine there, Kareem Hunt was signed and Nick Chubb broke out with a monster rookie season. It’s unfortunate because he could have been a nice slot option and made the RB committee one of the scariest in the NFL.
In my opinion, showing up to camp and demanding a trade is bad for him. The only reason he is there is that camp is mandatory. That is literally what he said. He also stated that his mind won’t change about wanting out.
At this point, I feel like the Browns will only hold onto him until the trade deadline if they are confident enough in Hunt, just so that they have a solid backup. If he doesn’t perform, it’ll only hurt his chances of getting a true starting role in the NFL. Therefore, I doubt that will be an issue. He clearly wants a larger role on a team. Looking from the outside in, it seemed like the Browns wanted to keep him, they just shopped around a little.
“I won’t be a disgruntled employee. I won’t be causing scenes or losing focus on what’s important,” Johnson said.
“My thing is, I’m big on loyalty.”
Baker Mayfield was quickly asked about the drama and responded honestly:
“It’s not awkward, it’s self-inflicted,” Mayfield said. “It’s not awkward for anyone else in this building. He’s got to do his job. He said he’s a professional. I hope he does his job.
I personally don’t like how Mayfield responded to the situation. You cannot be alienating someone who is still on the roster, but I guess he has to set a tone for everyone. The constant theme that has been developing with this squad is you are either with us or against us.
Head coach Freddie Kitchens was extremely professional about the ordeal. I just hope Duke can check his emotions at the door and perform for Cleveland, or his reputation will sour quickly, labeling him as a locker room cancer and a bad teammate. This will not only hurt his opportunity for chances somewhere else but his trade value for Cleveland. It would be a lose-lose situation.
I suspect it’ll be fine, but who knows with these things. The new era of athlete empowerment has for sure changed the landscape of sports and roles within organizations. It would be great if the Browns started off hot and found a permanent role for Duke, but that seems unlikely at this point.