The defending AFC South champions have a new offensive weapon. How will running back Duke Johnson help Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans’ attack?
It’s very commonplace for certain NFL teams to engage in trades with others on a consistent basis. In recent years, we’ve seen the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders in deals that involved the former sending wide receivers Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown to the Bay Area while the Black and Gold obtained Ryan Switzer from the Silver and Black.
A few years ago, the Cleveland Browns took quarterback Brock Osweiler off the hands of the Houston Texans so the latter could open up some salary cap room. In 2017, the Texans traded up in the draft with the same team and selected Clemson University quarterback Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall selection.
Now the two franchises are at it again. Via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Browns are sending running back Duke Johnson south to the Lone Star State in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2020. Pelissero also states that the choice could become a third-round selection a year from now.
The back-and-forth when it comes to this situation has been fascinating. Earlier this year, Johnson expressed his desire to be dealt. The team used a second-round pick in 2018 on Nick Chubb, who led the Browns in rushing during his rookie season. General manager John Dorsey also grabbed Kareem Hunt after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs following his off-the-field issues. He will be suspended for the first eight games of the regular season.
With the recent release of running back D’Onta Foreman, Bill O’Brien’s club was in serious need of experienced depth in the backfield behind Lamar Miller. And Johnson not only offers that but will give Watson a reliable outlet receiver that should make life easier for the third-year quarterback – especially one that was sacked an NFL-high 62 times in 2018. Johnson has not missed a game in four seasons and his rushing numbers aside for a moment, he’s totaled 235 receptions for 2,170 yards and eight scores.
The 25-year-old performer is a perfect addition to a Houston offense that could certainly use some more pass-catching options other than wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. His 115 grabs in 2018 dwarfed the 32 receptions by Will Fuller, who has had problems staying healthy. That’s not been the case for Johnson. And it will be interesting to see if getting his wish pays off in the long run.