Kareem Hunt

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.

Browns’ Kareem Hunt Returns To Practice

Browns running back Kareem Hunt will return to practice on Monday, per a club announcement. Hunt must still serve two more games on his eight-game suspension, but he is apparently healthy enough to scrimmage.

Hunt spent the early part of the season recovering from sports hernia surgery, which overlapped with the first six games of his eight-game ban. The suspension stemmed from an ugly recording in which Hunt threw a woman to the ground in a hotel corridor. Despite the controversy around Hunt, the Browns picked up the ex-Chiefs running back with the belief that he would change his ways and improve their running game.

Hunt, for his part, vowed to get back on track.

“I want to again apologize for my actions last year,” Hunt said in a statement after his suspension was announced in March. “I know that my behavior hurt a lot of people, and I again apologize to them. I respect the league’s decision on discipline, and I appreciate the time I spent with Commissioner Goodell last week. I’m grateful for my time with the Browns over the last month and thankful to all the people in the organization that have welcome me. I also appreciate all of the support I received from my union through this process. My commitment to earning the trust of the league, my teammates, the organization, and this community through my actions will continue, and I understand there is a lot of work ahead of me before I’m able to fully return to playing the game I love.”

If he’s healthy and ready to go, Hunt will be able to make his debut in Week 10 against the Bills. The third-year pro will look to build off of career totals of 2,151 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing, plus 79 catches for 833 yards and ten scores via the air.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Hunt, Steelers, Lions, Packers

It turns out Kareem Hunt‘s suspension won’t be as significant as it originally seemed. The Browns’ running back is suspended for the first eight games of the season, but he would’ve missed the first handful of those games anyway. Hunt underwent sports hernia surgery on Thursday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. The injury will likely sideline Hunt for the next 4-6 weeks, according to a tweet from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The Browns announced in a tweet of their own that a “full recovery is anticipated prior to his return to action in Week 10 of the regular season.” Hunt will be eligible to return from his suspension on November 10th against the Bills. Until then Cleveland’s backfield will still be in good hands, as they have Nick Chubb holding down the fort. Once Hunt returns, the Browns will have a potentially scary one-two punch. Hunt was one of the best running backs in the league before Kansas City cut him last year, scoring 14 touchdowns in just 11 games.

Here’s more from the league’s North divisions:

  • Ben Roethlisberger has a new backup. Second-year player Mason Rudolph has won the competition to be the Steelers’ backup in 2019, sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Pittsburgh drafted Rudolph 76th overall last year, and he spent the 2018 season as the third-string passer behind Roethlisberger and Joshua Dobbs. During the preseason Rudolph impressed by completing 65 percent of his passes while throwing four touchdowns and only one interception, and some think he’s a potential heir to Roethlisberger. He hasn’t been cut yet, but it looks like this could be the end of the line for Dobbs, a 2017 fourth-rounder, in Pittsburgh.
  • The Lions gave defensive tackle Damon Harrison an extension last week, and now we have the full details, courtesy of Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. In addition to getting an extra year tacked onto his deal, Harrison also received a $2MM raise for the 2019 season. He also got a $7.5MM signing bonus. His contract now runs through the 2021 season, with an option on the final year that must be exercised by the final day of the 2020 league year.
  • Speaking of Lions contract details, punter Sam Martin had his deal reworked, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Martin had a non-guaranteed base salary of $2.4MM for 2019, which was bumped down to a guaranteed $1.7MM. Yates adds that 2020 is now a voidable year in his contract. Martin took a pay-cut for 2019, but he’ll now get the chance to reach free agency sooner and cash in as a result of the 2020 year becoming voidable when it was previously just non-guaranteed salary.
  •  The Packers have settled on their starting left guard. After a training camp battle between veteran Lane Taylor and rookie Elgton Jenkins, the team has opted to go with Taylor, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It’s going to be a competition throughout the season, but right now Lane Taylor is the starter,” head coach Matt LaFleur said. Taylor signed with Green Bay as an UDFA back in 2013 and has been with the team ever since. He’s started at least 14 games each of the past three seasons, although his play has been underwhelming at times. The Packers drafted Jenkins 44th overall out of Mississippi State back in April.

AFC North Notes: Josh Johnson, Ravens, Kareem Hunt

With the news that Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin would miss time with a fractured bone on his thumb, the team worked out free agent quarterback Josh Johnson, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted.

A journeyman signal-caller over the last decade, Johnson has suited up in the regular season with five teams — Buccaneers, Browns, Bengals, 49ers and Redskins — but has been a part of numerous others. He received an extended look under center with Washington in 2018, when he started three games and threw for 590 yards and three touchdowns.

A mobile QB, Johnson fits Baltimore’s run-heavy attack and has worked under Harbaugh in the past. Johnson reportedly had ankle surgery in March, so assuming he receives a clean bill of health during his workout, the veteran makes plenty of sense to work under second-year signal-caller Lamar Jackson.

Here’s more from around the AFC North:

  • Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam addressed the media about Kareem Hunt, stating that talks are still ongoing with the league and players association regarding the team’s attempt to have Hunt remain with the team through the upcoming eight-game suspension, the Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich tweeted, Dee Haslam also noted Hunt has to work really hard to be a part of the Browns and that it’s up to him, Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot tweeted.
  • Sticking in Cleveland, second-year defensive end Chad Thomas gave the middle finger to a fan who heckled Thomas to hustle on Sunday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Coach Freddie Kitchens addressed the incident, saying that if the two of them had a conversation it would stay between them. “Of course, Chad Thomas, as you guys see, he is very emotional, a passionate guy. I want those guys to play with passion, but he is also a young guy so he has to understand and develop a sense of when to move on. I think he will learn.” Since it was not done during a game, the Browns instead of the NFL will handle any type of punishment.
  • Steelers safety Sean Davis suffered a finger injury that could possibly be a dislocation, coach Mike Tomlin said [Tweet via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler]. Davis has started 31 of a possible 32 games the past two seasons in Pittsburgh, registering four interceptions and 15 pass breakups.

AFC Notes: Gordon, Daniels, Pats, Succop

After rounding up some news from the NFC earlier tonight, let’s check out the AFC:

  • Chargers GM Tom Telesco says he did offer an extension to RB Melvin Gordon, as Eric Williams of ESPN.com tweets, but there are no reports on how much the offer was worth. Gordon is holding out from camp and was put on the reserve/did not report list.
  • Before the Packers cut Mike Daniels earlier today, they discussed potential trades with the Browns, Patriots, and Chiefs, per Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (video link). Garafolo suggests those teams will continue to pursue Daniels, but at least seven clubs have already been in contact with him.
  • Browns GM John Dorsey confirmed that he met with Duke Johnson‘s new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, on Tuesday, but Dorsey declined to say whether Johnson is still demanding a trade (via Josina Anderson of ESPN.com on Twitter). In related news, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports RB Kareem Hunt will miss the start of training camp with a groin injury, though the injury is not believed to be serious.
  • The Patriots have placed veteran O-lineman Brian Schwenke on the reserve/retired list, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Schwenke was taking first-team reps at left guard in the spring, but it sounds as if his career could be over.
  • Jets safety Marcus Maye is on the PUP list after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says it’s not a sure thing that Maye will be ready to go by Week 1 (Twitter link). Head coach Adam Gase was non-committal when asked if Maye would miss any regular season action.
  • Titans K Ryan Succop had offseason knee surgery that did not go as well as planned, according to Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com. The team has placed Succop on the PUP list, but he is expected to be ready for Week 1 at the latest.
  • Ravens first-round WR Marquise Brown could be getting closer to completing his comeback from a Lisfranc injury. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports that Brown has passed his conditioning test and now needs to pass his physical (Twitter link). Hensley says it would not be surprising to see “Hollywood” on the field next week.

Latest On Browns RB Kareem Hunt

Kareem Hunt is back in the news. A video on TMZ.com showed the Browns running back talking with police following a “small argument” (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). Hunt was not arrested or charged following the incident.

Per Florio, the owner of the bar where the incident took place downplayed the entire ordeal, while a witness told TMZ.com that a “physical altercation” definitely occured. As Florio notes, it’s uncertain if that “altercation” was an actual fight or just horseplay. The cops in the video can be heard telling Hunt that they “saw him push you.”

A Browns spokesperson told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com that the team is aware of the incident, and the organization has already talked to Hunt. It’s unlikely that anything comes up this latest episode, although Florio wonders if the organization may have placed Hunt on “some sort of a one-strike arrangement” when they signed him back in February. While the recent incident seems relatively harmless, Florio notes that the Browns could “regard any controversy whatsoever involving Hunt to be enough” to terminate the contract.

The Browns stirred up some controversy up their own when they signed Hunt earlier this offseason. Hunt, 23, is under investigation for three separate 2018 events — most notably the incident captured on video that showed him shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel/apartment complex in February of last year. The Chiefs waived Hunt following reports of the incident, but the Browns subsequently inked him to a one-year deal.

Hunt will already be sitting out the first eight games of the upcoming season. When the running back eventually returns from his suspension, he’ll be joining a talented Cleveland offense. While Hunt is out, the team can lean on 2018 second-rounder Nick Chubb and pass-catcher Duke Johnson Jr., while the passing game will revolve around quarterback Baker Mayfield and wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns GM John Dorsey On Key Players, Draft Plans

Browns GM John Dorsey addressed the media this morning and provided a number of noteworthy tidbits. Here are some highlights (compiled via the Twitter accounts of Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com):

On the status of RB Duke Johnson, who requested a trade a few weeks ago:

Dorsey said that Johnson’s trade request does not change how the club views him, and that he still envisions a key role for Johnson in the Browns’ offense. Johnson has not been with the team since the offseason workout program began on April 1, but there has been communication between the team and Johnson’s agent. There is still no word on whether Johnson will report for mandatory minicamp in June, but it sounds as though Dorsey is not particularly keen to honor Johnson’s trade request at this time (which means there may not be a particularly large market for his services).

On trading into the first round:

Dorsey did not rule out the possibility of getting his club back into the first round of this year’s draft, and he acknowledged the benefit of getting the potential fifth-year option for a top collegiate prospect. He said he has talked to teams picking in the bottom of the first round about a potential trade, but he added that he always does that as a part of his due diligence. The Browns’ first draft choice this year is the No. 49 overall selection, so they would need to give up a lot to jump at least 17 spots into the first round.

On Odell Beckham Jr.:

Dorsey said OBJ has not reported to the team for voluntary workouts, but he does not sound concerned. He said it would be nice to have the star receiver present, but he added that Beckham is a professional who understands what he needs to do to get ready for the season.

On Kareem Hunt:

Dorsey said that Hunt has “worked his fanny off” both with the team and in the community, and he is impressed with the progress Hunt has made.

On Morgan Burnett:

Dorsey sees the newly-acquired defender as the Browns’ starting strong safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Rumors: Hunt, Simmons, Draft, OBJ

The Browns are asking the NFL to allow Kareem Hunt to remain with the team during his eight-game suspension, a source tells Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. Players are typically banned from the team facility and all activities during personal conduct policy suspensions, but the club is looking for an exemption in Hunt’s case.

Given Hunt’s history, this could be an uphill battle for the Browns. While we wait for developments on that front, here’s more from Cleveland:

  • It sounds like GM John Dorsey will consider Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons in the upcoming draft, despite his red flags. “I think from your standpoint, what you should do is you should talk to the coaches and the support system at Starkville, Mississippi State, and just see what kind of man that guy really is,” Dorsey said (via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal). The Browns might not be able to land Simmons with their first pick at No. 49 overall, but trading up is always a possibility.
  • Dorsey expects Odell Beckham Jr. to arrive in Cleveland for the start of the voluntary offseason program on Monday, April 1 (via Cabot). “He’s excited,’’ Dorsey said. “There’s a genuine excitement there. There’s familiarity with some teammates. There’s familiarity with his position coach. I’m sure he’s … he’s got a relationship with Baker so I’m sure he’s excited to be part of this new beginning for him.’’

Browns RB Kareem Hunt Suspended Eight Games

The NFL has suspended Browns running back Kareem Hunt eight games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

“I want to again apologize for my actions last year,” Hunt said in a statement (via USA Today’s Mike Jones on Twitter). “I know that my behavior hurt a lot of people, and I again apologize to them. I respect the league’s decision on discipline, and I appreciate the time I spent with Commissioner Goodell last week. I’m grateful for my time with the Browns over the last month and thankful to all the people in the organization that have welcome me. I also appreciate all of the support I received from my union through this process. My commitment to earning the trust of the league, my teammates, the organization, and this community through my actions will continue, and I understand there is a lot of work ahead of me before I’m able to fully return to playing the game I love.”

The eight-game suspension is about on-par with expectations, as Hunt was expected to receive at least a six-game ban. NFL Network’s James Palmer tweets that the running back did not appeal the ban. Now that the suspension has been assessed, the running back is allowed to attend Browns offseason activities (and, subsequently, training camp).

The 23-year-old is under investigation for three separate 2018 events — most notably the incident captured on video that showed him shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel/apartment complex in February of last year. After that video surfaced, Hunt was placed on the NFL’s Commissioner Exempt, and the Chiefs soon waived the Pro Bowl running back.

After going unclaimed on waivers, Hunt was connected to multiple teams before landing with the Browns. The running back signed a one-year deal that included a base salary of $645K, a $25K per-game roster bonus for each game that he is active, and a $55K offseason workout bonus. Hunt will ultimately give up around $303K of that $645K base salary, and he’ll have a chance to earn around $200K in per-game bonuses upon his return (via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter). He would have earned $678K via his rookie contract in Kansas City.

The 2017 third-round pick broke onto the scene as a rookie, compiling 1,782 yards and 11 touchdowns on offense. He continued that production in 2018, as he collected 14 touchdowns through 11 games.

When the running back eventually returns from his suspension, he’ll be joining a talented Cleveland offense. While Hunt is out, the team can lean on 2018 second-rounder Nick Chubb and pass-catcher Duke Johnson Jr., while the passing game will revolve around quarterback Baker Mayfield and wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Details On Kareem Hunt’s Deal With Browns

Kareem Hunt‘s one-year deal with the Browns includes a base salary of $645K, a $25K per-game roster bonus for each game that he is active, and a $55K offseason workout bonus, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. It’s not exactly a top of the market deal for a running back, but it’s actually a better deal that the one Hunt had with the Chiefs prior to his release. 

Hunt will be able to earn $420K more from the Browns on a new contract than he would under his his old contract, had he been claimed, as Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap notes (on Twitter). There’s also upside for next year – Hunt will have the ability to earn more as a restricted free agent in 2020 than he would have as a fourth-year rookie.

The Browns’ decision to sign Hunt has stirred up some controversy and the details of his new deal won’t help ease the criticism. Recently, GM John Dorsey admitted the Browns’ investigation into Hunt’s past did not include speaking with the victim of his hotel assault, which didn’t help matters.

I talked to a lot of people (but) I didn’t get a chance to talk to that victim,” Dorsey said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “That’s probably part of her privacy stuff.”

Hunt won the 2017 rushing title with 1,327 yards on the ground. Prior to his Kansas City departure last year, he compiled 1,202 yards from scrimmage and scored 14 total touchdowns in eleven games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.