During the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix this week, Kitchens downplayed the notion that Johnson would be traded.
"I don't know why it's assumed that we're going to trade Duke Johnson," Kitchens said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. "I don't know why we would ever want to voluntarily give up a good football player. Duke Johnson is a good football player. Duke Johnson will have a role on our football team. All these guys that are here will have a role.
Kitchens pointed out that the skill set of Johnson is different than starter Nick Chubb or Hunt, who is suspended the first half of the season. As a pass-catcher who can line up wide, Kitchens said he could easily utilize multiple backs on the field at once.
The expectation all along has been that Cleveland would be open to trading Johnson if the right offer comes along. At this point, the Browns' brass hasn't gotten that bid. Perhaps one might come after free agency and the draft. Maybe near the trade deadline during the season if injury strikes. Maybe never.
With Chubb growing into the bulk of the workload and Hunt's anticipated return during the season, rumors surrounding Johnson won't abate. In the meantime, Kitchens will conjure up ways he can use a chess piece like Johnson until he's told the running back is no longer in Cleveland.