At least by the time the Pittsburgh Steelers reported to training camp, everybody who wanted to be traded, or wanted to be gone, has left the building. For the Cleveland Browns, they have veteran running back Duke Johnson, who during the offseason formally requested a trade, and recently hired Drew Rosenhaus to be his agent to try to facilitate that happening.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield drew a bit of controversy during minicamp when he was asked about Johnson’s status and whether or not it was awkward to have him report even though he had sought a trade. He said that it wasn’t awkward but rather “self-inflicted” and that they wanted players who wanted to be here.
There was a report stating that Mayfield had a bit of an informal counseling session from one or more veterans on the team who thought he could have handled his comments better, and wide receiver Jarvis Landry was likely a part of that.
With Johnson now in training camp, and catching passes from Mayfield, the quarterback told reporters recently that, between the two of them, “we addressed it” and that “we’re good”. General Manager John Dorsey and Head Coach Freddie Kitchens both continue to claim that the running back will have a significant role in the offense, and reaffirmed that they were not going to ‘give him away’ in a trade.
“We’re here to do our job”, Mayfield added. “He’s here. Like I said, when it all came out, we want people that want to be here. He’s here right now and that’s important. I think that shows we’re here to win”.
Personally, I don’t see that anything has changed from when Mayfield made his original comments. There was no reason at that time to believe that Johnson had any intentions of not reporting to training camp. After all, he had already shown up to minicamp. So there was no reason for Mayfield to think that he would not come in and do the work while still trying to make a trade happen.
More likely, he realized that he could have handled the situation better and corrected his public take on the matter. Which is what somebody in his position should do. Frankly, I don’t think it matters a great deal what he really thinks as long as he says the right things, or at least is in the ballpark about them.
Last year, the Browns signed Carlos Hyde in free agency and drafted Nick Chubb at the top of the second round, even though they had given Johnson an extension. While Hyde was traded midseason, that only led to Chubb taking over.
Now Chubb is the established lead back, and they also signed former Pro Bowler Kareem Hunt to work as a one-two punch, even though he is going to be suspended for the first half of the season. Hunt is currently on the Non-Football Injury List.