The Houston Texans have announced the release of former Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson. An excellent trade made during John Dorsey's tenure in spite of a problem he created, the Browns were able to get a third round pick for Johnson, who didn't fundamentally change the fortunes of the Texans in any meaningful way.
Yet another example of the incredible failure of Bill O'Brien acting as his own general manager, the return on Johnson's trade was remarkably high, especially considering that Dorsey more or less outed Johnson when the team signed Kareem Hunt as a free agent, which led to Johnson requesting a trade.
Johnson's first season was reasonably productive. He played all 16 games when the Browns needed him to be active for ten to meet the conditions to get a third round pick, Johnson ran for 410 yards at 4.9 yards per carry and had 410 yards receiving at 6.6 yards per target. He scored five touchdowns that season and got to experience a playoff game before the Browns did.
His second season was representative of the team as a whole. Johnson played 11 games and had just 484 total yards with a single touchdown. The team largely fell apart in general, but Johnson missed games for the first time in his career and couldn't produce in the running game. He was a still a decent receiving option, averaging 7.1 yards per target, but he only had 249 yards.
Johnson shouldn't have much problem finding a home for a team that wants him to be primarily a receiving option out of the backfield that can help protect the quarterback. It was always going to be incredibly difficult for him to live up to the third round pick exchanged for him. There is talk that the Texans want to re-sign him, but at a much lower cost.
The Browns selected linebacker Jacob Phillips with the pick acquired from the Texans. Sadly, he suffered knee injuries which limited what he was able to do as a rookie, but eventually got on the field and flashed some promise. Trading a third round pick for Johnson was a bad investment but it remains to see what Phillips will become in order to evaluate how well the Browns took advantage of the trade.