The Browns seem to be a team on the rise, but they’ve got a logjam at running back. They drafted Nick Chubb in the second round, they signed Carlos Hyde, and they just inked Duke Johnson to a contract extension.
Chubb and Hyde are bigger, power runners. If somebody is having some success slamming it between the tackles, it will be one of those two guys.
But Johnson is far better than either of those options as a pass catcher, so he seems to have the safest, most secure role in the offense. He’ll definitely play in all obvious passing situations and should also get plenty of change-of-pace work. That kind of role might allowed him to finish with more total yards than either of the two larger backs.
The Browns just signed Johnson to an extension, and it’s a three-year deal worth $15.6 million, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
That’s a noteworthy price tag. It’s slightly more than what they paid to land Hyde ($15.25 million for three years).
The Browns last year on some occasions flexed Johnson into the slot. That helped his passing stats. And now that they’ve got Jarvis Landry, that kind of usage should decrease. But there’s a good chance he’ll be one of the top half-dozen pass-catching running backs in the league.
Receiving leaders among running backs since 2016 …
|RUNNING BACKS RECEIVING (last 2 years)|
|LeVeon Bell, Pitt.||160||1,271||7.9||4|
|Duke Johnson, Clev.||127||1,207||9.5||3|
|James White, N.E.||116||980||8.4||8|
|LeSean McCoy, Buff.||109||804||7.4||3|
|Todd Gurley, LAR||107||1,115||10.4||6|
|Theo Riddick, Det.||106||815||7.7||7|
|Mark Ingram, N.O.||104||735||7.1||4|
|Melvin Gordon, LAC||99||895||9.0||6|
|Jerick McKinnon, Minn.||94||676||7.2||4|
|DeMarco Murray, Tenn.||92||643||7.0||4|
|Devonta Freeman, Atl.||90||779||8.7||3|
|Chris Thompson, Wash.||88||859||9.8||6|
|Carlos Hyde, S.F.||86||513||6.0||3|
|David Johnson, Ariz.||86||946||11.0||4|
|Giovani Bernard, Cin.||82||725||8.8||3|
|Alvin Kamara, N.O.||81||826||10.2||5|
|Bilal Powell, NYJ||81||558||6.9||2|
|Christian McCaffrey, Car.||80||651||8.1||5|
|T.J. Yeldon, Jac.||80||536||6.7||1|
|Kyle Juszczyk, Balt.-S.F.||70||581||8.3||1|
|Isaiah Crowell, Clev.||68||501||7.4||0|
|Frank Gore, Ind.||67||522||7.8||5|
|Lamar Miller, Hou.||67||515||7.7||4|
|Matt Forte, NYJ||67||556||8.3||2|
|Ty Montgomery, G.B.||67||521||7.8||1|
|Devontae Booker, Den.||61||540||8.9||1|
|Charles Sims, T.B.||59||439||7.4||2|
|Darren Sproles, Phil.||59||500||8.5||2|
|Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.||58||632||10.9||3|
|Tevin Coleman, Atl.||58||720||12.4||6|
|Jalen Richard, Oak.||56||450||8.0||3|
|Travaris Cadet, 3 tms||56||400||7.1||4|
|Charcandrick West, K.C.||55||338||6.1||4|
|Shane Vereen, NYG||55||347||6.3||0|
|Tarik Cohen, Chi.||53||358||6.8||1|
|Kareem Hunt, K.C.||53||455||8.6||3|
|Jordan Howard, Chi.||52||423||8.1||1|
|Andre Ellington, Ariz.-Hou.||51||454||8.9||0|
|DeAndre Washington, Oak.||51||312||6.1||1|
|Jay Ajayi, Mia.-Phil.||51||309||6.1||1|