Cleveland has acquired a lot of talent this offseason and even more exuberant personalities. With that, comes a hell of a lot of noise, and the folk around the DawgPound are beginning to realize that very early in the season.
A couple of months ago, the Browns went out on a limb and signed Kareem Hunt. As we all know, Hunt missed the closing stretch of last season and is suspended for eight games of the 2019 campaign stemming from a domestic violence incident that included a video of him kicking a woman. While everyone deserves a second chance, Cleveland’s willingness to quickly overlook his wrongdoings shows that as long as you are talented, the NFL has a place for you – no matter what kind person you are.
But that is another story for another day.
The real conundrum the Browns are faced with is what to do with all of their talented backs. Nick Chubb has emerged as the starter, Kareem Hunt might have been the best running back in football before his suspension, and Duke Johnson is among the best change of pace backs in the league. All of that talent at one position cannot possibly co-exist, right?
It didn’t take long for someone to get upset. According to several sources, Duke Johnson is demanding a trade out of Cleveland. The Browns might not be eager to deal him considering Kareem Hunt’s suspension, but when someone wants to be moved in football, it usually happens.
Johnson is entering the first year of a three year contract and will be paid an AAV of about $5 million. The Falcons just lost Tevin Coleman this offseason, and even though they have Ito Smith and rookie Quadree Ollison on the depth chart, Duke Johnson would bring a whole different element to this offense. ESPN’s Mike Clay even put Atlanta on a list of teams he would like to see the Browns running back traded to. So do the Falcons have what it takes to make a deal happen?
The short answer is no, or very unlikely.
While I love what Duke Johnson would bring to the offense, he is on a very similar contract to Tevin Coleman. Coleman’s is actually a year less than Johnson’s. So if the Falcons were worried about the running back position; they would have just re-signed the guy who has been in Atlanta for four years and proven to be a worthwhile commodity.
Taking it a step further, Ito Smith is a player Atlanta is exceptionally fond of. They believe he should not have a problem as the backup running back. After all, he filled the role nicely a year ago with Devonta Freeman out. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the Falcons spent a fifth-round pick on Quadree Ollison. It would look less than ideal for management to give up on Ollison before he even played a down in the NFL; which is what they would be doing by trading for Duke Johnson.
If all of that isn’t enough to persuade the Falcons from pursuing the former University of Miami standout; whatever Atlanta would have to cough up in return should do the trick. Cleveland’s asking price probably won’t be a whole lot, but parting ways with draft picks is not in Atlanta’s best interest. They are cash strapped and will be relying on the draft for years to come as their star players continue to ask for pay raises. Duke Johnson to the Falcons, in theory, is a slam dunk. But after a more in-depth look, it makes little sense in the grand scheme of things.