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The Cleveland Browns have time (and good reason) to let the Duke Johnson situation play out -- Bud Shaw's Sports Spin

There's no shortage of blame to go around in the Duke Johnson-Baker Mayfield spat, starting with GM John Dorsey. But cutting ties now is not the best answer.
Credit: AP
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, right, hands off to Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

CLEVELAND — Should the Browns trade Duke Johnson as soon as possible just because Baker Mayfield has sounded the “all aboard” and Johnson is standing on the platform looking for a different destination?

In the poorly chosen words of general manager John Dorsey, Johnson isn't expendable "yet."

It’s June. Camp doesn't even reconvene until late July. 

Just in time for a month of pre-season games in which the goal this year -- more than any other in recent history -- will be to get to the regular season with no injuries beyond hurt feelings.

So what if Mayfield didn’t care for Johnson’s stance about wanting out? And that Johnson didn’t fancy Mayfield’s public criticism of him?

Both had their say. Both have a point.

If disagreement in June is considered enough to derail this train, you might not want to stand too close to the tracks when real games begin and the best-laid plans collide with good opponents, bad bounces or even worse... officiating.

Dorsey needlessly inflamed the situation in with his answer to whether the acquisition of Kareem Hunt meant Johnson might be expendable. Johnson aired his hurt feelings in mini camp when he could’ve just as easily swallowed them publicly. Mayfield could’ve called Johnson out in a private conversation.

Everybody could’ve handled things better, but nothing that happened calls for an immediate break in relations.

Dorsey is smarter than that. Hunt is suspended for the first eight games. Johnson might not want to be this year’s Carlos Hyde, traded halfway through the season. But he’s under contract.

His trade value would increase if another team loses a running back it’s counting on in the preseason.

Is Dorsey aware Luther Campbell, the husband of Johnson’s agent, went after Mayfield on social media for his criticism of Johnson?

Of all the gray sweatshirts in Dorsey's collection, I'm betting against a "2 Live Crew" hoodie.

I’m pretty sure somebody had to tell him. And even more sure he doesn’t really care.

At least, you know, not yet.

Sounds possible.

And reasonable.

  • The Browns will be one of the most watched teams in the NFL this season.

That train started moving when they drafted Mayfield. It picked up speed when they acquired Odell Beckham Jr.

Buckle up.

Less smart? Thinking they’ll be back in the NBA Finals next season.

  • The problem isn't that free agency awaits Kevin Durant  and Klay Thompson. It’s that crutches and a year of playing Bingo and Connect 4 awaits them even if they do re-sign with Golden State.
  • If Houston, for one, can’t take advantage of that in the same way Toronto took advantage of LeBron James moving on to the Lakers, James Harden might have to crab dribble and side step all the way to the Eastern Conference to find himself a championship.
  • Kawhi Leonard was named the NBA Finals MVP.

But it wasn’t unanimous. Ten voters picked Leonard. One, Hubie Brown, who provided Finals analysis for ESPN radio, picked guard Fred VanVleet.

Not suspected, until now, of being related to Hubie Brown.

  • VanVleet had moments. Leonard had a series.

VanVleet as MVP is like saying Kareem was the star of “Airplane.”

  • There’s no such thing as a championship asterisk. Toronto winning after injuries to Durant and Thompson shouldn’t be held against the Raptors any more than the Warriors beating the Cavs after injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love should discredit Golden State.

And I’m sure every Cavs fan could not agree less with me.

  • I admit it. Team USA’s 13-0 win over Thailand in the World Cup was such a rout it made me feel sorry for the players.

Who don’t get equal pay from U.S. Soccer and had to file a lawsuit to call attention to gender discrimination.

  • CBS Sports reports six Division 1 men’s basketball programs will be notified of “serious NCAA violations” in the months ahead.

Way off the consensus over-under of all of them.

  • Charges of impropriety at those yet unnamed schools stem from the federal government’s investigation into corruption in the sport that implicated coaches from several programs and cost one head coach, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, his job.

Hopefully, you didn’t hear about Pitino's involvement on the same day you found out there’s no Santa Claus.

  • HBO has selected the Oakland Raiders for the next season of Hard Knocks, presumably because the Lannisters are no longer available.
  • With Jon Gruden as head coach and with the acquisitions of Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict and Richie Incognito, the Raiders already aren’t so much a NFL team as a sweaty spinoff of "Big Brother."

"Everybody wants to be a Raider," owner Mark Davis said in a news release. "Now they'll find out what it takes to become one.”

To clarify, he doesn’t mean parole.

  • Gruden isn’t happy about it. He recognizes the challenge of putting a roster together and preparing a team for a schedule that takes the Raiders to London again in their final season in Oakland before next year’s relocation to Vegas. Now Hard Knocks cameras.

That’s a lot of moving pieces without even counting the Mayflower van.

  • Hard Knocks missed a really good story by a year. Imagine if this was the year HBO came to town to show what it takes to become a Brown.

I’m not saying Hard Knocks didn’t pull back the curtain on riveting aspects of the Browns operation in Berea but when two of the story lines are Devon Cajuste and his crystals and Carl Nassib and his investment advice, well, I guess I am saying that.

  • Kyrie Irving, who declared Boston a real sports town but maybe not enough of one for him to sign there long term, has split with agent Jeff Wechsler and will sign up with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.

Whew. Now you can go about your day.

Or at least a call.

  • Word from the Ravens minicamp is that the ball is coming out quicker than it did last year with Lamar Jackson at quarterback.

Next year they will work on the ball coming near its target.

Bieber is 25, Cruise 56.

Before Bieber said he was just kidding — is he hilarious or what? — a social media thread erupted in which people were charged with challenging a celebrity 31 years their senior to a fight.

I declined. Mostly because I saw Happy Gilmore and don’t like my chances against Bob Barker one bit.

  • Or even Gloria Vanderbilt.
  • A.J. Green, drafted by the Bengals in 2011, says he cannot see himself playing anywhere else.

In the latest definition of Stockholm Syndrome.

Have a weekend.