Friday, March 15, 2019

Dealing Duke a mistake

 Now that the Browns know they won’t have the services of running back Kareem Hunt until the second half of the 2019 season, it’s time for Browns General Manager John Dorsey to stop shopping Duke Johnson Jr.

There is no logical reason to continue to solicit any kind of activity that would land the versatile running back/wide receiver on the roster of another National Football League team.

Besides, there is no guarantee Hunt, who received an eight-game suspension by the NFL Friday and will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season, will return to the Browns for the 2020 season.

The Browns rescued the Willoughby native after the Kansas City Chiefs cut him late last season following violations of the league’s personal conduct policy. He obviously is grateful, the Browns signed him, but in the business world, that goes just so far.

Unless Dorsey, who drafted Hunt as the Chiefs’ general manager, can extract a promise from Hunt that he will sign a long-term contract with Cleveland after this season, it makes no sense to deal Johnson now. That’s not going to happen.

It’s difficult to understand why Dorsey is thinking of dealing Johnson when he says, “Duke Johnson is a really good player. He’s a very valuable asset on this team.” And “you can never have enough talent on a team.”

Now that Odell Beckham Jr. is aboard, that virtually eliminates Johnson from being part of the pass offense. All of which pigeonholes him at running back and he is a decided No. 3 behind Nick Chubb and Hunt, once he returns from suspension.

Now Dorsey is clearly gambling – so what else is new? – that Hunt will see the light and remain with the team that tossed him a lifeline. Then again, there is a chance he just might say adios next year when a team looking for a stud running back with the résumé he owns and offers him more money than the Browns are willing to match.

Also take into consideration Hunt, once he returns, will share reps with Chubb, a situation he might not like considering he was the man in Kansas City and rarely missed plays.

That’s part of the conundrum. There are too many possibilities of losing Hunt next year for Dorsey with regard to dealing Johnson. Unless, of course, he genuinely does not believe Johnson is a fit with this team.

Unfortunately, the last two Browns coaching staffs have not maximized his talents. So if Dorsey insists on looking for a trade partner, a team like the New England Patriots and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be a perfect fit.

About the best the Cleveland GM can hope for in return is a fifth-round draft pick or a marginal player best suited for special teams.

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