The hype around Melvin Gordon and the Buccaneers will soon blow over, and the more realistic free agent options will now come into play. Just yesterday, it was reported that Cleveland running back, Duke Johnson, has been increasingly frustrated with his trade demands as of late. It was also announced that Johnson had fired his former agent in favor of hiring Drew Rosenhaus.
Frustrations Boiled Over
At just 25 years old, Johnson possesses a decent combination of both running and pass catching ability. What makes this situation interesting is the fact that Johnson just signed a three-year, $15.6 million dollar extension with the Browns in 2018. Since then, Freddie Kitchens has taken over the team, Kareem Hunt was signed in a bold move by the Browns, and Johnson was publicly slighted by Browns starting quarterback, Baker Mayfield. His frustrations seem a tad bit justified.
What’s also interesting to hear is Johnson’s name attached to the Buccaneers via trade (again). A much cheaper (and younger) option, Johnson would serve as a perfect role back in Bruce Arians offense. Pairing Peyton Barber with Duke Johnson along with second-year running Ronald Jones looking for a major bounce-back season, the running back depth has potential. Not a week-in and week-out threat, but certainly a viable group.
Tampa Bay Makes Sense
Pro Football Talk even isolated Tampa Bay as the team to watch as the situation plays out:
Here's a team to watch as a potential Duke Johnson destination: Tampa Bay.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 11, 2019
Once factors are added in, this one starts to make more sense in Tampa Bay’s case. Arians has repeatedly said he has faith in the running backs. Johnson offers a better value, arguably than any of them on the roster. While it’s fair to assume Ronald Jones will improve this year, it remains to be seen if he can make a substantial leap in production given his draft status. I’d easily give Johnson the nod over Jones at this point in their respective careers.
It also makes sense financially. Johnsons’ extension is rather team-friendly considering his upside. But this also means someone in the running back stall will have seen their final days; Andre Ellington comes to mind as well as undrafted free agent Bruce Anderson. Overall, it’s a trade that makes sense both financially and practically and I would definitely give Arians a huge stamp of approval.