Kareem Hunt

Browns’ Kareem Hunt Hoping For Extension

Browns running back Kareem Hunt feels “lucky” and “blessed” to have the chance to play for the Browns, despite his off-the-field history. At the same time, he’d like to receive an extension from the team (via Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer).

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No question,‘’ Hunt said. “I’d definitely like to be a part of something like this. Everybody is here that I care about. I know everybody in the whole town. I would not mind playing for the Browns for a long time.

The Browns gave Hunt a second NFL chance in 2018, despite disturbing video of him striking a woman at a Cleveland hotel. In that same year, he also got into a physical altercation with a man in Ohio. On the field, he delivered a 4.2 yards-per-carry average. Off the field, this past January, he was cited for marijuana possession.

The new regime in Cleveland opted to stick with him, though they let him know that he has to do better.

Just pretty much [they’ve said] ‘I can’t have that. It’s not acceptable,‘’’ Hunt said. “I’ve got to be smarter and cannot be doing stuff like that. We had a good talk. They see me on the field as a guy who is going to make some plays this year and help the team win. That’s what I have been looking forward to. We have been talking. I keep in touch with coach all the time about what he wants to see and stuff like that.”

Hunt is slated to be a free agent after earning $3.26MM in base pay this year. The Browns probably aren’t in a rush to commit additional dollars and years to him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns’ Kareem Hunt Signs Tender

Browns running back Kareem Hunt has signed his second-round tender, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. With that, Hunt will earn $3.27MM on the year. 

The Browns took a gamble on Hunt in 2018, despite his troubled history in Kansas City. The Chiefs cut the running back after a surveillance video showed him striking a woman at a Cleveland hotel. In that same year, he also got into a physical altercation with a man in Ohio. Hunt promised the Browns that he would work hard on the field and clean up his act off of the field. On the field, he held up his end of the bargain with a 4.2 yards per carry average. Off the field, this past January, he was cited for marijuana possession, though those charges were dropped in March.

Despite the citation, the Browns tendered Hunt at the second-round level this offseason. He’s now set to resume his role as a complementary back to starter Nick Chubb in 2020.

Hunt, a 2017 third-round pick, began his NFL career with a league-leading 1,327 rushing yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie. He continued that production up until his KC release in 2018 with 14 all-purpose TDs through eleven games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Tender Kareem Hunt, Release Morgan Burnett

The Browns placed a second-round tender on restricted free agent Kareem Hunt and released safety Morgan Burnett, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Both moves were expected, though the tender level for Hunt was in question. 

The second-round tender will cost roughly $3.3MM for 2020. If Hunt is signed to an offer sheet and the Browns decline to match, they would receive a second-round pick from the team signing him.

Hunt, of course, has been the subject of serious controversy in recent years. In 2018, the Chiefs cut Hunt after a surveillance video showed him striking a woman at a hotel in Cleveland. In that same year, he also got into a physical altercation with a man in Ohio. The Browns picked him up and Hunt vowed to make wholesale changes to his life. In January, police say Hunt was in possession of marijuana when they pulled him over for a traffic stop.

Since then, new Browns GM Andrew Berry has indicated that Hunt would be retained. On the field, he averaged nearly 60 yards from scrimmage per game and posted a 4.2 yards per carry mark.

Burnett, meanwhile, has been plagued by injuries over the last two seasons. The Browns released him with a failed-physical designation, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. An Achilles tear brought his 2019 season to an early end and the Browns, in turn, have terminated the second half of his two-year, $7.5MM deal. By shedding his deal, the Browns will save $3.375MM while carrying a dead money hit of $1.325MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Marijuana Charges For Browns’ Kareem Hunt

Running back Kareem Hunt will not face charges for possession of marijuana in connection with his January traffic stop, as Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. The local police lieutenant did not dismiss the possibility of additional charges, but he says that’s an “unlikely” possibility. 

It’s good news for Hunt, whose status with the team was in question following the incident. In recent weeks, new GM Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski have offered support for Hunt, indicating that they’d be willing to move forward with him if he stayed on the right path and showed remorse.

Hunt is set for restricted free agency and the Browns have some time before deciding whether to tender him and which level of the tender to use. It’s not a given that they’ll retain him, but it seems likely.When asked at the combine, Berry told reporters “that’s the anticipation right now.” At minimum, the traffic stop incident probably won’t play a major role in their decision.

We’re looking forward to him being a member of our team,” Berry said, “provided that he and all of our players abide by our expectations.”

In a vacuum, the traffic stop doesn’t mean much. However, this slip-up raised some eyebrows given his previous history. In 2018, the Chiefs cut Hunt after a surveillance video showed him striking a woman at a hotel in Cleveland. In that same year, he also got into a physical altercation with a man in Ohio.

After serving an eight-game ban, Hunt averaged 4.2 yards per carry in a limited sample and also caught 37 passes for 285 yards. All together, he scored three all-purpose touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ohio Notes: Hunt, Burrow, Staff

Despite another new regime coming to Cleveland and Kareem Hunt running into more off-field trouble, the Pro Bowl running back expects to stay with the Browns for the 2020 season. He expects to be back with the Browns via high-level RFA tender or an extension, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (video link), and wants to remain with his hometown team. Hunt signed a one-year deal with Cleveland in 2019, but because he has just three years of service time, the controversial ex-Chief is not yet eligible for unrestricted free agency. To keep Hunt, the Browns will likely have to apply a first- or second-round tender on him. Hunt became available after a video showed him shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel in 2018, leading to the Chiefs waiving him. He was pulled over while driving with marijuana in his vehicle last month. New Browns GM Andrew Berry was not with the team when John Dorsey signed Hunt, but his offseason comments point to the team moving to keep its Hunt-Nick Chubb backfield together for next season.

Here is the latest from the Ohio teams:

  • Joe Burrow‘s Bengals interest has come up at multiple points this offseason, with rumors circulating that the Ohio native may not be thrilled about going to the team that holds the No. 1 overall pick. But Burrow’s stance thus far likely points to nothing being decided until he meets with Bengals brass on the customary pre-draft tour — Combine visit, facility visit, workout — before he decides on his course of action, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). Burrow’s “I do have leverage” comment was not an interjection but merely repeating a reporter’s question as part of a response. No player has maneuvered his way away from a team with the top pick since Eli Manning did so when the Chargers held the 2004 top pick.
  • Longtime Cowboys assistant Ben Bloom will resurface in Cleveland. The Browns are hiring Bloom as a senior defensive assistant, according to Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio (Twitter link). Bloom started his NFL coaching career with the Browns, working on Eric Mangini‘s two staffs from 2009-10. He spent nine seasons on Jason Garrett‘s Cowboys staffs, the past two coaching Dallas’ linebackers.
  • Some around the league view the Patriots as a fit for nine-year Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals, who are expected to draft Burrow at No. 1, plan to help Dalton work out a trade.

Browns GM On OBJ, Hunt, Free Agency

On Wednesday, the Browns formally introduced old friend and new GM Andrew Berry to the media. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from his presser:

  • It sounds like running back Kareem Hunt will have an opportunity to move forward with the Browns, despite his latest misstep. “With Kareem, we’ve communicated our expectations for him moving forward,” Berry said (via Jeff Risdon of USA Today). “We want guys who are going to be smart, tough, and accountable on and off the field. Kareem understands that.” Hunt, who was cut by the Chiefs after a video showed him shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel, was recently found with marijuana and vodka after being pulled over by cops. The Browns can retain Hunt via the restricted free agent tender or negotiate a new deal with him, but it seems unlikely that they’ll want to make a long-term commitment to him at this time.
  • Berry offered similar thoughts regarding Odell Beckham Jr., though he noted that both he and Hunt will have to fit into the Browns’ “culture in terms of being smart, tough and accountable.” The GM says that both he and head coach Kevin Stefanski have chatted with Beckham, an indication that they’re all on the same page. OBJ reportedly wanted out of Cleveland towards the end of the season, but we recently heard that the Browns’ new regime has every intention of keeping him. OBJ had “just” 1,035 yards in a down year, but the Browns believe that he can get back to his old form in short order.
  • Berry says the Browns plan to “aggressively add talent” this offseason (via 92.3 The Fan). With roughly $50MM in available cap room, the GM will have opportunities to spend in March before he makes his pick at No. 10 overall in April.

Latest On Browns RB Kareem Hunt

Browns running back Kareem Hunt found himself in a spot of bother with police late last week, as he was pulled over for speeding but was found to have marijuana in his vehicle. TMZ has since posted a video of the traffic stop, which revealed a few more critical details. For instance, in addition to the marijuana, Hunt had an open bottle of vodka in the vehicle and admitted to the officer who pulled him over that he would have failed a drug test in that moment.

Not too long ago, Hunt looked like one of the league’s brightest stars as a member of the Chiefs. But after a video showed the former rushing champion shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel in 2018, Kansas City parted ways with him.

The Browns took a chance on him last February, knowing that he would likely be hit with a lengthy suspension. Hunt was banned for the first eight games of the 2019 campaign, but he played reasonably well when he returned. As a complementary back to starter Nick Chubb, Hunt averaged nearly 60 yards from scrimmage per game and posted a 4.2 YPC mark.

Cleveland can retain Hunt via a restricted free agent tender, which seems much more likely than a long-term pact at this point. Although the Browns now have a new power structure, it stands to reason that the club would want Hunt back. He will be just 25 when the regular season opens, and with unrestricted free agency looming in 2021, he could be especially motivated to put his ugly off-field incidents further behind him and prove to the rest of the league that he can still be a top-flight starter.

But the traffic stop could give the Browns — and all 31 other clubs — some pause. Though he has not (yet) been cited for anything other than speeding, the fact that he used drugs not long before getting behind the wheel is troubling, and he was very emotional throughout his interaction with the officer.

“Man, I’ve been through a lot,” Hunt said. “I lost everything already, sir. I’m just trying to be in my hometown and chill.”

He certainly lost a slam dunk chance at a massive contract, and he has also missed a chance to win a title with the Chiefs this year, which clearly still upsets him.

“It hurts my soul,” he stated. “You don’t even understand. I’ve been fighting a lot of s*** lately. It still hurts me to this day.”

In order to give himself the best shot at regaining his former status, Hunt needs to stay squeaky clean, and this incident isn’t helping matters. It will be interesting to see how new GM Andrew Berry handles the Hunt situation in the coming weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Notes: Hunt, Brown, Woods, Staff

The Browns’ scrutinized gamble on Kareem Hunt went fairly smoothly this season, with the running back playing in eight games after serving his suspension for his actions during his Chiefs run. But Hunt ran into some more off-field trouble this week. Rocky River (Ohio) Police pulled him over for speeding and found small amounts of marijuana in three locations in the vehicle, Kaylee Remington of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. Hunt was placed in the backseat of a police cruiser but only charged for speeding. The NFL is aware of the incident, per a statement. This would mean far less were it not for Hunt’s history. A video showed the former rushing champion shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel in 2018, leading to Hunt’s Chiefs departure. Hunt signed a one-year Browns contract but can be retained via RFA tender. However, with John Dorsey out of the picture, the talented back’s standing with the Browns may be less certain.

Here is the latest out of Cleveland:

  • Joe Woods is expected to become the next Browns defensive coordinator, though the 49ers have not given up on keeping him. The Browns are not expected to have a finalized agreement with Woods until after Super Bowl LIV and are holding off on making some hires to their defensive staff, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer adds. Woods becoming Cleveland’s next DC would stand to result in the ex-Denver DC and current San Francisco DBs coach bringing him some handpicked staffers.
  • On the subject of Browns staffers, Kevin Stefanski is bringing in one of his former Vikings coworkers. Six-year Minnesota staffer Drew Petzing will become the Browns’ new tight ends coach, Cabot reports. Petzing coached quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs in Minnesota. The 32-year-old coach worked under then-quarterbacks coach Stefanski in 2018 and moved from assistant QBs coach to wideouts coach last year. Prior to his Vikings stay, however, Petzing spent the 2013 season as a Browns intern.
  • Fired less than two seasons into the radical rebuild Jimmy Haslam green-lit, Sashi Brown expressed concern about the Browns’ constant turnover. Currently working with the Washington Wizards, Brown hopes the next Browns GM will have a chance to build something. “I hope they get the time to do it and that there’s true alignment throughout the building and some conviction and what I would say the organizational faith that maybe hasn’t been there across some of the rash of change that’s been spinning around here for the better part of the last decade,” Brown said, via the Akron Beacon Journal’s Marla Ridenour. The Browns have moved on from a staggering five regimes since Haslam took over in 2012, and the instability has shown no signs of slowing down. GM frontrunner George Paton withdrew his name from consideration for the job Friday afternoon.

Freddie Kitchens: “I Don’t Care About My Future As Browns Coach”

5:23pm: Kitchens clarified his comments on Monday, as Cabot writes in a full-length piece. Kitchens said, “I care about my job. I only care, though, about getting better today. That’s what I was trying to illustrate is I’m only focused on today on getting this football team to play the best of their ability today and to increase those chances of us getting to that point on Sunday of playing the best that we can on Sunday. Everybody here is focused on that.”

4:42pm: Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens once again found himself in the headlines for the wrong reason last night. Following his team’s loss to the Cardinals, Kitchens was asked about his future with Cleveland, and Kitchens said, “I don’t care about my future as Browns coach” (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com).

Surely Kitchens does, in fact, care about his job as the Browns’ head coach, and it’s likely his comments were simply made out of frustration after a bad loss and in the wake of persistent speculation about his future. But it’s obviously a bad look, and emblematic of the tone deaf manner in which Kitchens has operated throughout much of this season, his first as an HC.

Just yesterday, we heard that the Browns were inclined to retain Kitchens for the 2020 season barring a “horrific collapse or circumstance to end the season.” But the defeat at the hands of 3-9-1 Arizona — which included a brief sideline argument with receiver Jarvis Landry –coupled with the post-game comments, could be the foundation of a “horrific collapse or circumstance.”

Making matters worse, Browns running back Kareem Hunt admitted that some of his teammates gave less than maximum effort during some of the Arizona game, as Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. That admission could end up being much more damaging for Kitchens’ chances of sticking around than Kitchens’ own comments.

The Browns, 6-8, now have a less than 1% chance of making the postseason, per FiveThirtyEight.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Tomlin, Green, Browns

There may be plenty of Steelers fans unhappy with head coach Mike Tomlin, but he has navigated his team through some turbulent waters over the last couple of seasons, and after starting the 2019 campaign 0-3 and losing Ben Roethlisberger to injury, Pittsburgh is now 4-4 and is back in the AFC playoff picture. As Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com writes, Steelers players believe Tomlin is in the midst of one of his finest coaching performances, and that should go a long way towards quieting outside criticism. Thanks to an (admittedly unusual) one-year extension that he signed in July, Tomlin is under contract through 2021, and his standing within the organization seems strong.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • Bengals WR A.J. Green will miss Sunday’s game against the Ravens after it was initially reported that he would be making his 2019 debut against Baltimore, and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic believes the sudden turn of events could suggest that Green is preparing to sit out for the remainder of the season (which may be what he wanted all along). However, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network observed that Green was working out on the field Sunday morning and says his ankle will be reassessed this week (Twitter link). As of right now, the team is not planning on shutting Green down for the year.
  • In addition to Green, the Bengals have been without LT Cordy Glenn all year. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, Glenn is still taking scout-team reps in practice, and it’s unclear whether he will be activated at all in 2019. Of course, Glenn and the Bengals are at odds over the team’s handling of his concussion, so it’s possible Glenn has already played his last snap for Cincinnati.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the Browns‘ analytics department believed Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, not Freddie Kitchens, was the right man for Cleveland’s head coaching job. Of course, the Browns went against that recommendation, but given the club’s disappointing 2019 season, the team could be back in the market for an HC in 2020, and if that happens, Stefanski — who was reportedly the runner-up to Kitchens — should be on the short list of potential replacements.
  • Browns RB Kareem Hunt will make his Cleveland debut against the Bills on Sunday after serving an eight-game suspension, and La Canfora says Hunt is expected to be a major part of the team’s offense right away. Even more importantly, Hunt has not only fulfilled all of the league’s requirements for reinstatement, but he has taken on a number of non-mandatory responsibilities. Per La Canfora, Hunt meets with women’s groups, participates in community service, and continues to speak to a counselor regularly.