Report: Duke Johnson, Browns Agree to 3-Year Contract Extension

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Duke Johnson #29 of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball in for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns and running back Duke Johnson reportedly have agreed to a contract extension.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the three-year deal is worth $15.6 million with a $5 million signing bonus.

The move ensures Johnson, who was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract, won't test free agency next spring.

The Browns selected Johnson in the third round of the 2015 draft (77th overall), and he instantly filled a void in their backfield as a pass-catching specialist. As a rookie, Johnson amassed 61 receptions for 534 yards and two touchdowns while tacking on 379 rushing yards.

That trend held steady in 2016 before Johnson experienced something of a breakout last season operating heavily out of the slot.

Appearing in all 16 games for the third straight year, the University of Miami product tallied a career-high 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns from scrimmage. Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell, New Orleans' Alvin Kamara and Carolina's Christian McCaffrey were the only other running backs who totaled at least 1,000 scrimmages yards and 70 receptions last season, according to Pro Football Reference.

Moving forward, though, it's fair to wonder if Johnson's usage will decline.

For starters, the Browns bolstered their backfield by signing Carlos Hyde in free agency and drafting former Georgia bulldozer Nick Chubb. On the receiving front, Cleveland added slot maven Jarvis Landry, who figures to tap into Johnson's target share considering he's been targeted 570 times and logged 400 receptions over the past four seasons.

In other words, the Browns' flurry of moves in the personnel department could put a hard cap on Johnson's ceiling.

That said, after selecting quarterback Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, the Browns may be looking to keep as many playmakers as they can to ease their prized rookie's transition to the NFL.

Johnson is the kind of game-breaking playmaker new offensive coordinator Todd Haley should be intent on feeding in some form or another as the Browns try to climb out of the AFC North cellar.