Report: Baker Mayfield Approached by Browns Veterans over Duke Johnson Comments

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2019

Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson Jr. runs a drill at the team's NFL football training facility in Berea, Ohio, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

Several Cleveland Browns veterans reportedly approached Baker Mayfield after the quarterback made critical comments about running back Duke Johnson Jr.'s trade request.

On Thursday, Michael Silver of NFL Network reported members of the team "voiced their displeasure" with Mayfield, whom they viewed as meddling in Johnson's business relationship with the Browns.

"It's self-inflicted. It is what it is. It's not awkward for anyone else in this building," Mayfield told reporters of Johnson's trade request. "He's gotta do his job. He said he was a professional. I hope he does his job."

Johnson, 25, wants out of Cleveland because of a perceived lack of loyalty. The team reportedly explored trading him earlier this offseason, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. 

Johnson explained his trade request earlier this month:

"I'm big on loyalty. I felt as though I have been loyal to the organization through it all. The moment the loyalty stops, it stops on both ends. It is not a one way street. It stops on my end as well. Would it stop me from doing my job? Of course not. Me being upset and me wanting to be traded would not stop me from coming out here and performing at a high level."

The Browns have publicly said they have no plans to trade Johnson, who will enter the season as the primary backup behind Nick Chubb and as their third-down back. The team also signed Kareem Hunt this season, who will miss the first eight games because of a suspension. Johnson's role could decrease when Hunt returns.

The Browns would have a $4.1 million dead cap hit if they traded Johnson this season, the first in a three-year extension he signed last year. 

Heading into his second season, Mayfield has taken on a vocal leadership role and seemed frustrated by Johnson's public request. 

"If somebody wants to be here, they'll be here in that situation. You got guys within our locker room that are dying to get playing time, that are dying to be here. I get it, Duke has been here for years and I respect that but it is about what are you doing right now. The past is the past. My rookie year, I have to learn from it and move forward. It is about right now and what we are going to do."

When it comes to issues of players versus management, players almost unilaterally side with themselves. Comments like Mayfield's threaten locker room chemistry, especially if Johnson stays on the roster.