As training camp looms on the horizon for all 32 NFL teams, we are beginning to slowly see more and more signs of action on different fronts, whether it’s players ramping up their conditioning, teams bringing in players for workouts, the beginnings of negotiations for possible contract extensions, and even the hirings and firings of agents.
Earlier this year, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Hilton chose to sign on with the only agent who really seems to get anything done, that being Drew Rosenhaus. Rosenhaus helped architect the Antonio Brown trade that saw the wide receiver, with three years left on his deal with nothing guaranteed, get both guarantees and a pay raise.
Hilton is an exclusive rights free agent and holds little to no cards, but exclusive rights free agents have gotten a contract in the past, most recently with Alejandro Villanueva. The cornerback shouldn’t get his hopes up, but now Rosenhaus has another project to focus on: getting another trade in gear.
Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson has been open for most of the offseason since the new league year started about his desire to be traded. He has formally requested the trade, and has even received criticism from Baker Mayfield for his position, which he argues is about being with a team who actually wants him.
In spite of his belief that he is not wanted in Cleveland, the Browns have for now refused to oblige his trade request, even though they had previously attempted to seek trade offers for him before he ever asked to be traded.
Johnson recently fired his previous agent and has now hired Rosenhaus with training camp a couple of weeks away. Given that he has already gotten a contract extension, we know that this is about the trade request and not about money.
During Brown’s trade process, Rosenhaus spoke very openly about his belief that players should have as much say as teams do with respect to how and when a relationship between a player and team ends. Teams can release or trade a player at any time, and he feels that players should have some leverage in this as well.
Because of course he does, because he’s an agent. His bias doesn’t necessarily make him wrong on this matter, but nevertheless, here we are, with Rosenhaus representing Duke Johnson and going into motion trying to get this trade to actually happen.
Johnson’s desire to be traded was largely spurred on by the team’s signing of Kareem Hunt. Hunt will serve an eight-game suspension to start the season, so there is reason to believe that they will want to keep him on the roster for that long as Nick Chubb’s backup, and may consider trading him after Hunt returns.