Browns GM maintains Duke Johnson's 'vital' role

Duke Johnson wants to be traded from Cleveland. The man in charge isn't ready to acquiesce to those desires.

During his pre-draft press conference Thursday, Browns general manager John Dorsey told reporters he views Johnson as a "member of this organization moving forward."

Johnson requested a trade this offseason after the Browns brought in Kareem Hunt -- who is suspended eight games. With Nick Chubb set to be the starter, it's likely Johnson, a pass-catching back, views his opportunities as limited in Cleveland. Johnson did not report to the team's offseason workouts.

Dorsey, however, insisted Johnson has a place in coach Freddie Kitchens' offense.

"When you sit down with Freddie and the coaching staff, they see him as a vital part of this offense moving forward," Dorsey said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. "He's a good playmaker."

Added the GM: "He understands the role that he's going to play within this offense, and that's what's important because Duke, everybody knows, is a very talented playmaker, and I look forward to seeing him on the field on Sundays."

The Browns have fielded offers for the dual-threat running back, but it sounds like the market hasn't materialized to Dorsey's liking. Suggesting he'd hold on to the running back could be a maneuver by the GM to spur growth in a trade market. Most likely, the Browns would have to wait at least until next week's draft to get their best offers. Dorsey could also hold on to Johnson until Hunt returns from the suspension, or closer to the trade deadline this fall.

Primarily a pass-catching back who can line up at receiver positions, Johnson brings diversity to the Browns backfield. The 25-year-old generated 1,041 scrimmage yards and seven total touchdowns in 2017. Dorsey rewarded that dual-threat ability with a three-year, $15.6 million contract last summer. Jettisoning the running back right now saves the Browns no money on the cap, giving Cleveland little reason to move on from him before the draft.

With Chubb the primary ball carrier last season, Johnson's workload dwindled. His trade request intimates he doesn't see it improving with Kitchens taking over full-time.

A trade could materialize down the road, but right now Cleveland doesn't have the incentive to move on unless they get the right offer. Given Dorsey's comments, that hasn't happened, yet.

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