Cleveland — Duke Johnson got his wish, and the Browns got more than expected for him.
Cleveland traded the disgruntled running back to the Houston Texans on Thursday for an undisclosed 2020 draft pick. A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that the Browns are getting a fourth-round pick that can become a third-rounder.
The person spoke on the AP condition of anonymity because the teams are not providing details of the swap.
One of the NFL’s most versatile backs over the past four seasons, Johnson had grown unhappy with his role and asked to be traded earlier this year after the Browns signed suspended free agent running back Kareem Hunt, who will sit out the season’s first eight games.
Browns general manager John Dorsey had been adamant he wasn’t going to “give away” the 25-year-old Johnson, and he resisted several offers before striking a deal with the Texans.
Houston was looking for a proven backup to play behind starter Lamar Miller. The Texans released D’Onta Foreman earlier this week.
Johnson, who has been sidelined for much of training camp with a hamstring injury, is a shifty runner, solid at blitz protection and can play some wide receiver if the Texans need him to.
Miffed by what he called the Browns’ lack of loyalty toward him, Johnson skipped the team’s voluntary offseason program. In June, he doubled down on his trade request, saying loyalty “is not a one-way street.”
During his public rift with the Browns, Johnson changed agents and hired Drew Rosenhaus, who met with Dorsey at the start of training camp.
With Johnson gone and Hunt out until November due to an NFL suspension for two violent incidents, second-year back Nick Chubb will get the majority of carries.
However, depth is a concern for the Browns, who have been impressed with Dontrell Hilliard, who signed as an undrafted rookie last season and showed promise while appearing in 11 games.
Johnson was drafted in the third round in 2015 after starring at Miami, where he is the school’s career rushing leader. He ran for 1,286 yards, caught 235 passes for 2,170 and scored 13 touchdowns for some bad Browns teams.
He was dependable, but Cleveland’s coaching staffs never figured out how to best use the 5-foot-9, 210-pounder, who fought for every yard. Johnson was named the team’s MVP in 2017, when the Browns went 0-16, but his stats dipped dramatically last season — 40 carries vs. 82 the previous year — when Chubb got the bulk of work as a rookie.
Johnson’s trade removes a possible distraction for Freddie Kitchens in his first year as coach. Johnson’s status was an ongoing drama, and the back’s hard stance didn’t sit well with several teammates, including quarterback Baker Mayfield, who called him out publicly and said he hoped Johnson could “do his job.”
He’s now got a new one.
Saints seek dismissal of lawsuit
They were badly burned by the “Nola no-call,” but the Saints have joined the NFL in opposing a fan’s lawsuit seeking damages over the missed penalty that helped the Rams beat the Saints in a January playoff game and move on to the Super Bowl.
The lawsuit by attorney and self-proclaimed fan Anthony LeMon resulted in a state judge’s recent order that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and three game officials submit to questions in September. The league appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court on Wednesday night. And attorneys for the Saints filed an accompanying brief supporting the league.
At issue is officials’ failure to call a roughness or pass interference penalty on Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman for his helmet-to-helmet hit on receiver Tommylee Lewis well before a pass arrived during the NFC Championship game. The Rams won that game and advanced to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Patriots.
“As the Saints have expressed, no team should be denied the opportunity to reach the title game (or simply win a game) based on the actions, or inactions, of those charged with creating a fair and equitable playing field,” Saints attorneys say in the brief. They go on to say that the team has sought rules changes aimed at addressing such possibilities.
However, the brief says, allowing the suit to proceed would be wrong.
“While the Saints appreciate the fervor and dedication of their deep and passionate fan-base, allowing such claims to proceed in court would open the door to countless legal claims brought by passionate sports fans that would inundate the courts and overburden sports leagues and their member teams, including the Saints,” the brief says.
The Cowboys are donating $50,000 to a fund for victims of the mass shooting that killed 22 people and left about two dozen others injured in El Paso, Texas.
The team said the NFL Foundation was planning a matching donation to the El Paso Community Foundation Victims’ Fund.
... Nick Bosa’s debut in a 49ers uniform is on hold until the regular season, and uncertainty now looms whether the rookie defensive end will be healthy for the Sept. 8 opener at Tampa Bay.
Coach Kyle Shanahan termed it a “serious” ankle injury that could have been worse, adding that the team’s initial reaction was of a potential season ender for Bosa.
... Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who further endeared himself to Cleveland’s fervent football fans by biting into a beer can last weekend and gulping it down while attending an Indians game, has added sports drink BODYARMOR to his growing list of endorsements.
... The Chiefs agreed to terms with cornerback Morris Claiborne on a one-year deal to fortify a thin and unproven backfield.
... Cowboys defensive end Robert Quinn, already out for the remainder of training camp and the preseason with a fractured hand, will now miss the first two regular season games due to a suspension for violating the NFL’s ban on performance enhancers.
... Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche has signed with the Dolphins two weeks after the Cardinals released their 2016 first-round draft pick.