BEREA — The Browns found help at safety Monday by trading defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for Eric Murray.

And another deal may be on the horizon because the agent of Duke Johnson has asked the Browns to trade the running back, a league source confirmed.

Coach Freddie Kitchens said neither Ogbah nor Johnson reported to Browns headquarters Monday for the start of the team's voluntary offseason workout program.

Ogbah's exit came as no surprise. He became expendable last month when the Browns acquired defensive end Olivier Vernon in a trade with the New York Giants.

Ogbah didn't request a trade, but he obviously anticipated one.

"Ogbah did not show," Kitchens said before the Ogbah-Murray trade was made. "I would rather just talk about the guys that are here. I'm sure that he has his reasons."

There has yet to be recent communication between Johnson's camp and Browns General Manager John Dorsey, but Johnson's agent has told another member of Cleveland's front office about the player's request for a trade, the source said.

After Dorsey signed running back Kareem Hunt on Feb. 11, the GM said Johnson wasn't expendable "yet." The signing of Hunt prompted Johnson's trade request.

As a rookie second-round draft pick, Nick Chubb led the Browns last season with 996 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, so he and Hunt, a 2017 Pro Bowl selection drafted by Dorsey two years ago in Kansas City, have the potential to become a dynamic duo.

Hunt, however, will miss the first eight regular-season games of 2019 because of a suspension under the NFL's personal-conduct policy stemming from his physical altercations with a woman in February 2018 in downtown Cleveland and a man in June in Put-in-Bay.

The Browns have asked the NFL to allow Hunt to remain with them during his suspension, which will take effect Aug. 31, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week during the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix he has left the door open for Hunt to stay involved with the Browns for at least part of his eight-game ban.

"It's very clear that I feel like I can support Kareem better when he's with me, and our organization can support Kareem a hell of a lot better when he's with us than when he's not with us," Kitchens said. "I think that's very critical. Kareem is continuing to improve every day with being a better person because that's what he's going to have in 30 years. It's just going to be him. There are not going be any more footballs."

As for Johnson, he's been one of the Browns' better players since former GM Ray Farmer drafted him in the third round in 2015.

Asked if Johnson did not attend the start of the Browns' offseason training program because of the Hunt signing, Kitchens said, "I don't know. You would have to ask Duke that. I'm not speaking for Duke. Duke chose not to be here, and he has the ability to decide that. It's all voluntary."

Exodus

Ogbah and three other players drafted by former Browns head of football operations Sashi Brown were shown the door by Dorsey on Monday.

Strong safety Derrick Kindred, wide receiver Ricardo Louis and cornerback Howard Wilson were waived. Kindred and Louis were fourth-round picks in 2016. Wilson was a fourth-round selection in 2017.

Kindred served as the backup to starting strong safety Jabrill Peppers last season and had 45 tackles, a pass defensed, an interception and a forced fumble in 16 games, two of which he started.

Louis missed all of last season after undergoing neck surgery in the offseason. Wilson missed the past two seasons because of knee injuries.

Ogbah, a second-round selection (No. 32 overall) in 2016, started all 40 games in which he appeared with the Browns and registered 122 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 17 passes defensed and two forced fumbles. He had a career-low three sacks in 14 games last season.

Dorsey was asked March 14 if the Browns were shopping Ogbah and Johnson.

"[Other teams] call every day about certain players," Dorsey said. "Right now, those two guys are Cleveland Browns. They both are really good football players, but teams call around to [discuss] a lot of different scenarios all of the time."

New defender

A hole at strong safety was created last month when Dorsey traded Peppers to the Giants as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. deal.

The Browns believe Murray, 25, can play strong or free safety and will be a valuable contributor on special teams, and they ought to know. When Dorsey was the GM of the Chiefs, he drafted Murray in the fourth round (No. 106 overall) out of the University of Minnesota in 2016.

Murray started nine of the 15 regular-season games in which he appeared last season and compiled 55 tackles, two passes defensed and an interception. In three seasons with the Chiefs, he started 11 of 45 regular-season games and registered 99 tackles, including a sack, seven passes defensed and an interception. He also appeared in four playoff games.

The acquisition of Murray decreases the chances the Browns will sign Eric Berry or Tre Boston, free-agent safeties whose agents, Dorsey said last week, had been in contact with the Browns.

Dorsey might not be done adding to the pile at safety, though. Last week, he said, "there’s more than usual depth at the safety position" in April's draft.

Other moves

The Browns secured wide receiver Rashard Higgins on Monday, signing him to his original-round tender as a restricted free agent.

Higgins is now scheduled to play on a one-year contract worth $2.025 million and become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. The tender had been placed on Higgins, a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, last month.

The Browns also re-signed cornerback Juston Burris, who appeared in four games with them last season after being signed off the New York Jets’ practice squad. They retained two other players by signing them as exclusive rights free agents: defensive tackle Trevon Coley and safety Jermaine Whitehead.

Quotable

Kitchens reiterated that talented players don't necessarily guarantee team success.

"Yeah, our roster looks great on paper — whoop-de-hell, all right? — but at the end of the day, we better be a good team," Kitchens said. "You start building that during this time of the year, and training camp is a big portion of that."

 

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.