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Duke Johnson the definition of a Swiss Army knife, shows PFF

Now with a new contract, Browns fans can rest easy knowing there is a long-term plan for Cleveland’s most effective backfield weapon.

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NFL: Cleveland Browns-OTA Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

This past week, the Cleveland Browns signed RB Duke Johnson to a three-year contract extension worth $15.6 million. We’ll have a full breakdown of the deal as soon as the year-by-year details are available. The biggest key for me is to remember the additional three years are in addition to 2018, meaning he’ll be under contract for the next four years.

To celebrate the signing, Pro Football Focus wrote an article that discussed his versatility. Let’s summarize some of their neat statistics in bullet point form:

  • Despite not getting a lot of carries and being smaller, Johnson carried the ball 42 times for 202 yards between the tackles (4.70 YPC), which was a better average than “bigger” backs like Ezekiel Elliot.
  • PFF credits him for catching 74 of the 90 targets that went his way. He only dropped 3 of 77 catchable passes.
  • 44.6% of his receptions were either first downs or touchdowns.
  • 80+ of his routes either came from the slot or as an outside receiver.
  • He forced 39 missed tackles on 156 touches, ranking third in percentage behind only Alvin Kamara and Theo Riddick.

PFF says that the “real crime” is that despite the tremendous success that Johnson has had in terms of metrics, he only has 447 touches over the past three years — meaning there are 28 other backs who have had more touches.

PFF also recently highlighted how RB Carlos Hyde was an every-down back last year. A crowded backfield of Hyde, Johnson, and rookie Nick Chubb may still limit Johnson’s touches compared to other NFL backs, but the hope is that this will be less of a factor if the rest of Cleveland’s offense is clicking with QB Tyrod Taylor and WR Jarvis Landry in the fold. Landry, a great slot receiver, is also a guy who could take away from some of Johnson’s previous slot utilization.