Buffalo Bills 2022 Free Agency Grade: Duke Johnson

Duke Johnson, Miami Dolphins (Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke Johnson, Miami Dolphins (Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Buffalo Bills finally got a running back this free agency after agreeing to a one-year deal with Duke Johnson. They previously had agreed to terms with J.D. McKissic but he decided to return to Washington before officially signing his contract.

While Duke Johnson brings a similar skill set to McKissic, he is not limited to being just a receiving running back. This is my grade for the Buffalo Bills adding Duke Johnson based on his skill set and contract.

What does Duke Johnson bring to the Buffalo Bills?

Duke Johnson started in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and was a third round pick by the Browns in the 2015 NFL Draft. He played four seasons there before being traded to the Houston Texans in 2019. Johnson played two seasons there before being released before the 2021 season. He would join the Miami Dolphins on their practice squad and eventually make it to the active roster and appear in five games.

In the four seasons with the Browns, he was almost exclusively a receiving with an average of 59 receptions, and 543 receiving yards. However, Duke Johnson is a bigger running back and certainly can help in the run game, more than J.D. McKissic would.

At the end of last year with the Dolphins, Duke Johnson got a chance to be the featured running back and averaged over 16 carries per game in the final four regular season games. He also would have two games with over 100 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.


According to Spotrac, the Bills signed Duke Johnson to a one-year deal worth $1,272,500 with a cap hit of $1,047,500. This cap hit ranks 63rd among running backs in the NFL.

Final Grade: A-

While Duke Johnson has not had the same success recently as J.D. McKissic as a receiving running back, this move could end up being better for Buffalo this season. At one time in his career, Johnson was nearly as productive as McKissic but he also brings some versatility as he could step in as the lead running back or even share some of the work with Devin Singletary.

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While I think the Buffalo Bills should stick with Devin Singletary as the featured running back, having this option should help this offense in 2022.