Duke Johnson unfazed by reaction to his minicamp comments

Getty Images

Browns running back Duke Johnson has made it clear that he’d like to be traded. More recently, he made it clear that he’s not worried about how his prior comments were received.

I don’t really concern myself with that,” Johnson said Saturday at a youth bowling event hosted by teammate Rashard Higgins, via George Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Johnson added that he didn’t know that quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s public criticism of Johnson had sparked an issue in the locker room before a report regarding the situation emerged earlier this month.

The desire to be traded coincided with the signing of running back Kareem Hunt, who when paired with Nick Chubb will result in Johnson eventually being the odd man out.

“I only want to be somewhere I’m wanted,” Johnson said at the team’s mandatory minicamp in early June. “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.”

Those words prompted Mayfield to address the matter directly.

“Obviously, he’s going to handle his stuff how he wants, but you’re either on this train or you’re not,” Mayfield said. “It’s moving. You can get out of the way or you can join us. So it is what it is.”

But Johnson wants off the train. He likely wants off the train because he realizes that, although the Browns are willing to keep him in 2019 at a salary of $1.8 million (Hunt will be suspended for the first eight games of the year), they likely won’t want Johnson when his salary doubles in 2020. Presumably, he’d prefer to join a team that would value him sufficiently to pay the $1.8 million this year and the $3.6 million next year.

Then there’s the fact that Johnson has $400,000 in per-game roster bonuses. If, after Hunt returns from his suspension, Johnson lands on the inactive list, he loses $25,000 for each game he doesn’t dress. The final bill for 2019 could be up to $200,000.

Johnson said Saturday that he’ll address the situation again if he’s asked about it at training camp. Chances are he will be.

The real question is whether the Browns will continue to ignore Johnson’s obvious desire to let him exit the train at the next stop.