Duke Johnson

Duke Johnson


Former Bills running back Duke Johnson at Bank f America Stadium on August 26, 2022.

While the Buffalo Bills rebuild their roster for the 2024 NFL season, a former player is hanging up his cleats for good.

Running back Duke Johnson, who spent his final year in the NFL with the Bills, announced his retirement at age 30 on Sunday, May 5.

Johnson, drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft, shared the news with a heartfelt message on Instagram. Johnson wrote, “8 Years 4 teams with 1 goal in mind, create a better life for my family.”

The Miami alum “never dreamed of being the all time leading rusher of my dream school or being somewhere on the list of all time players to come out of South FL. I just wanted an opportunity to play a game to provide a better life for my family and I was able to do just that. I want to thank each team for giving me the chance to play and represent your organization and all the fans that supported me through the highs and lows.”

Johnson gave a shout to “all my vets” who showed him the “ropes free of charge,” and the “little bros who trusted” him as a mentor. “To all my coaches that I love, y’all know who y’all are, THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart I’m so grateful for each and every one of y’all.

“Last but DEFINITELY NOT LEAST, I want to thank my GOD for allowing me to take this journey and end it in the same health I started it in. With that being said I’m officially retiring from the NFL. I hope I left a greater impression on y’all that’s bigger than football. To my wife and Son, all of this was for y’all.”

Former Bills RB Duke Johnson was a Preseason Standout in Buffalo

Duke Johnson

GettyFormer Bills running back Duke Johnson at Highmark Stadium on August 20, 2022.

Johnson played with the Miami Dolphins before signing with the Bills in 2022. In five games in Miami, he recorded 71 rushes for 330 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 4 receptions for 41 yards.

After landing in Buffalo, Johnson appeared to be a strong candidate to make the 53-man roster. Through three preseason games, he registered 21 carries for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns while also returning punts and kickoffs. However, he faced tough competition with former Bills running Zack Moss and then-rookie James Cook. After cutting Johnson, the Bills signed the veteran to the practice squad the next day.

The Bills elevated Johnson to the active for one game, during which he registered 2 carries for four yards. While the San Francisco 49ers invited him for a workout ahead of the 2023 NFL season, he remained unsigned last year. Johnson finished his NFL career with 532 rushes for 2,265 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also recorded 311 receptions for 2,870 yards and 12 scores.

Bills News: The RBs Room Looks Different Heading Into the 2024 NFL Season

James Cook

GettyBills quarterback Josh Allen #17 hands the ball off to James Cook at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2024.

Cook appears to be hitting his stride as a pass-catching running back and is set to Buffalo’s RB1. The Bills drafted Ray Davis in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL draft, who could make an immediate impact. The Bills did not re-sign Leonard Fournette or Latavius Murray.

The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia wrote, “After bouncing back from being benched, Cook enters his third season as the unquestioned lead back on the roster.”

“[Ty] Johnson returned on a one-year deal and provided spark. His game is more like Cook’s, so he’ll likely have a game day role when Cook needs a breather. The Bills hope Davis [sic] brings what they’ve wanted to add to the group for years — power and short-yardage ability. It’s unclear how significant Davis’ role will be, but there’s a world where he jumps Johnson on the depth chart before the season begins.”

Emily Bicks covers the NFL for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Bills, Seahawks and Chiefs. She’s contributed to Heavy since 2019 and has interviewed some of the biggest stars in sports, including Jerry Rice, Shaquille O’Neal and Stefon Diggs. More about Emily Bicks

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