Browns running back Duke Johnson has requested a trade out of Cleveland, according to a report from Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. Johnson did not show up for the beginning of the Browns’ offseason workout program on Monday and NFL insider Adam Schefter notes a trade is “likely still to come.”
This news is obviously relevant to the Philadelphia Eagles considering they reportedly expressed interest in Johnson last month. Andy Slater was first to report the Eagles’ interest in Johnson but now Cleveland.com is also saying the same thing.
So, should the Eagles trade for Johnson? BGN made the case back in March:
Johnson could potentially replace Darren Sproles’ role in the Eagles’ offense. The 25-year-old back isn’t so much a lead ball carrier — with just 4.7 rush attempts per game over his career — as much as he is an offensive weapon. In four years with the Browns, Johnson has logged 235 receptions for 2,170 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He’s been a relatively efficient runner with 299 carries for 1,286 yards (4.3 yards per attempt) and five rushing scores.
Johnson’s contract is also appetizing. He has base salaries of $1.8 million, $3.6 million, and $4.65 million over the next three seasons. The Eagles could easily fit those numbers into their salary cap situation.
I also noted at the time that the Browns had leverage because they didn’t need to rush to trade him. Cleveland could still opt to be patient and keep a disgruntled Johnson but he’s clearly trying to force his way out. And given that the Browns just traded Emmanuel Ogbah — who also didn’t show up to the workout program — earlier today, it’s possible they won’t be so patient.
But wait. Would the Eagles really give up another asset(s) for a running back after trading Jordan Howard? Maybe not. But the feeling here is that Philadelphia should make a push to acquire Johnson. His third-down back skills provide a perfect complement to what Howard offers.
Trading for Johnson would also eliminate the Eagles’ need to select one in the 2019 NFL Draft. The fact that he’s a proven commodity in the league has value, especially for a team that hasn’t been so great at drafting running backs recently (see: Donnel Pumphrey, Wendell Smallwood).
I’m not sure what it’d take for the Eagles to acquire Johnson. Philly has to be cautious about being too loose with their draft picks so maybe a player-for-player trade would make more sense? The Eagles do have a lot of young cornerbacks on the roster.
An Eagles backfield consisting of Howard, Johnson, and Corey Clement for the 2019 season is pretty intriguing. That would leave the likes of Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, Boston Scott, and Donnel Pumphrey to battle things out for a fourth spot.
I think the Eagles should find a way to get Duke. What say you?
Should the Eagles trade for Duke Johnson even after trading Jordan Howard?
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