3:25pm: This process is moving fast. The Browns are hosting Hunt on a Tuesday visit, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This marks Hunt’s fourth known visit this offseason. He met with the Vikings, Saints and Colts. As of this past weekend, Indianapolis still had the six-year veteran on its radar.
2:52pm: Nick Chubb‘s gruesome injury has forced the Browns to look for a running back addition. The team is in the Cam Akers trade market, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot reports Kareem Hunt is also back on the radar.
In April, a report emerged indicating the Browns were not planning to bring back Hunt, who played out a two-year, $12MM extension with his hometown team last season. But Hunt has remained a free agent for the past six months. Having visited the Colts, Saints and Vikings, the former rushing champion looms as a natural fit for the Browns, seeing as he spent the past three seasons in Kevin Stefanski‘s system.
At 24, Akers is four years younger than Hunt, who turned 28 last month. The Cleveland-area native came up in trade talks before last year’s deadline, but after Hunt completed a down season, the running back market cratered. No substantial offers have likely come Hunt’s way, leading to the longtime Chubb complementary piece remaining unattached. An interesting opportunity could soon await, though it might depend on what the Rams are willing to accept for Akers. Hunt has logged 1,106 career touches; Akers’ NFL odometer sits at 387.
At least four teams are believed to have discussed Akers with the Rams. The former second-round pick is again on the trade block, becoming a healthy scratch in Week 2. While the Rams and Akers mended fences after last year’s dustup — one that led to trade talks ahead of the 2022 deadline — Sean McVay confirmed a trade represents this latest saga’s likely endpoint.
As Chubb led the NFL in Next Gen Stats’ rushing yards over expected metric last season, with 284, Hunt finished with minus-10. Hunt gained only 678 scrimmage yards in 17 games. The 2017 rushing champ had requested a trade during the 2022 offseason, and after the Browns refused to accommodate him at that point, they were open to an in-season move. A fourth-round pick emerged as a Cleveland ask, but the team ended up hanging onto Hunt during Deshaun Watson‘s suspension. A host of lower-profile backs found deals in March, and Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott wound up with teams during training camp. Hunt and Leonard Fournette, however, have been unattached for more than six months.
Calf and ankle injuries limited Hunt in 2021; he amassed just 560 scrimmage yards that year. The ex-Chief played a major role in the Browns snapping their near-two-decade playoff drought in 2020, producing 1,145 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns alongside Chubb. During the Chubb-Hunt partnership, the latter played a much bigger passing-game role. Akers has not done much as a receiver during his pro career.
Hunt complementing 2022 fifth-rounder Jerome Ford in a similar capacity makes sense for the Browns, who did acquire Pierre Strong from the Patriots in August. Ford played the lead role following Chubb’s season-ending injury Monday night.
Going through an up-and-down career with the Rams, Akers did close the 2022 season well after seeing a July 2021 Achilles tear sidetrack him. Akers produced three straight 100-yard games from Weeks 16-18 but has seen 2022 fifth-rounder Kyren Williams usurp him in L.A.’s backfield. Akers rushed for just 29 yards on 22 carries in Week 1, with most of those totes coming after the Rams had put the Seahawks matchup out of reach.
Hunt arrived back in Cleveland during John Dorsey‘s GM stretch, reuniting with the exec who drafted him with the Chiefs. But Hunt signed the above-referenced extension during Andrew Berry‘s first year at the helm. With this looming as a crucial year for Stefanski (and perhaps Berry as well), it is logical the Browns are looking for a veteran to team with Ford, who totaled just eight carries for 12 yards last season. Trey Sermon also landed on the Browns’ radar, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, but the ex-49ers and Eagles back signed with the Colts’ P-squad.