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Browns sign Duke Johnson to 3-year contract extension

The Cleveland Browns have locked up running back Duke Johnson for the foreseeable future.

Cleveland Browns v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns signed running back Duke Johnson to a three-year contract extension, locking him up through the 2021-22 season, the team announced.

“I’m excited. It’s fun to see how this team is shaping out and I want to be a part of it,” Johnson said in a team press release announcing the deal.

“John Dorsey has been bringing in guys that can play, that can ball, and that gives us a chance,” Johnson continued. “Now it’s about going out and doing it now.”

The deal was first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo.

As Garafolo pointed out, Johnson’s $5.2 million average salary puts him in the top 10 in average annual salary among running backs. He’ll land at No. 7 on the list, just two spots ahead of new teammate Carlos Hyde. Hyde signed a three-year deal with the Browns this offseason, a deal that is worth roughly $5.08 million per year, and includes $5 million guaranteed and a $3 million signing bonus.

Johnson is a versatile weapon who’s not limited to traditional running back duties. His ability to catch passes from the backfield as well as multiple receiver positions makes him valuable beyond traditional running back standards, and the Browns appear to agree. The team extended Johnson despite signing Hyde and then drafting Nick Chubb in the second round of April’s draft.

Johnson is a guy who can hurt teams in so many ways because he can create separation with his his speed and quickness. But he’s most dangerous after he gets the ball and is given even a sliver of open field to work with.

Need some proof? Johnson has amassed 500-plus yards receiving in each of his first three NFL seasons, making him the first to accomplish that since Hershel Walker did in the 1980s. He also led the Browns in receptions in 2017 with 74, which was more than twice than tight end Seth DeValve, the team’s second-place finisher. While that’s a wildly impressive stat for Johnson, take a moment to appreciate how equally pathetic it was for the rest of the Browns offense.

Here’s a quick look at Johnson in action, in case you’re somehow still not convinced, courtesy of WFNY’s Jake Burns: