Kareem Hunt

NFL Expected To Conclude Kareem Hunt Investigation By March

The NFL’s investigation into the three incidents that have put former Chiefs star Kareem Hunt‘s playing career in jeopardy is still ongoing, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. However, Rapoport writes that the league is expected to conclude its investigation before free agency opens in March, which means that any clubs interested in signing Hunt will have all the information they need prior to addressing their running back situation.

For now, Hunt remains on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, but once the investigation is over, the league will announce a suspension for Hunt, which is expected to be at least six games. But Rapoport suggests that, since Hunt was placed on the list with five weeks left in the 2018 regular season, he could see the length of his ban reduced.

Many have believed that the supremely talented 23-year-old would be playing in 2019, and the information that Rapoport passes along this morning certainly supports that notion. While he may be sidelined to start the 2019 campaign, it appears that he could be eligible to return to game action no later than October.

Although the Bears are the only team that we know has contacted Hunt since he was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, Rapoport notes that several clubs have touched base with him and have been keeping tabs on him. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com agrees, saying that multiple teams are interested in Hunt and that he is expected to sign with a new team sooner rather than later.

For his part, Hunt has not spoken publicly since an interview he gave to ESPN shortly after his release, and Rapoport says he has been quietly attempting to turn his life and career around.

Hunt has undergone counseling for anger and alcohol issues.

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Bears Speak With Kareem Hunt

Bears head coach Matt Nagy recently spoke with former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune). Nagy says the call was primarily to “check in on him as a person,” so the Bears aren’t necessarily looking at him as a free agent target. However, the two men have a relationship dating back to their time together in Kansas City and it may be a situation worth monitoring. 

[We had] a good conversation,” he said. “It’s an unfortunate situation (and) learning lesson for everybody.”

Nagy added that he believes in giving people second chances, but not third chances. That may be a reference to Hunt’s spotty off-the-field track record, which includes accusations of violence before and after his infamous brawl from February in which he appears to be kicking a woman in a hotel corridor.

Pressed with questions about Hunt, GM Ryan Pace was quick to put some distance between the team and the embattled RB. Pace says the Bears are “not even close to” the point of pursuing a deal with Hunt (Twitter link via Campbell).

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NFL Doesn’t Plan To Make Changes After Kareem Hunt Incident

The NFL’s handling of the Kareem Hunt incident has some owners questioning whether the league should change its procedures or get out of investigations altogether. However, the NFL isn’t planning to make any adjustments in that arena at this time, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post

League owners will huddle up in Dallas on Wednesday, and the recent events surrounding Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster (formerly of the 49ers) and Hunt may be a topic of discussion. However, the owners might not be able to make any real changes until the next round of labor talks with the NFLPA. Even assuming they can get the players on board, they’ll need a consensus among owners to change Roger Goodell‘s disciplinary procedures.

The personal conduct policy was revised in 2014, bringing harsher penalties for domestic violence incidents and empowering the league office to conduct independent investigations. However, without subpoena power and a willingness to pay for security footage, the NFL’s investigative branch is somewhat limited. It’s possible that some owners will advocate for the investigative arm to stand, but with a change to policy that will allow the league to pay for video evidence and obtain footage before outlets like TMZ.

For now, Hunt and Foster are on the Commissioners’ Exempt List, meaning that they are barred from playing. Hunt is technically a free agent, but it’s unlikely that any team will consider signing him until he is formally suspended by the NFL.

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West Notes: Raiders, Hill, Ekeler, 49ers

The long-anticipated Reggie McKenzie departure leaves the Raiders in search of a replacement, but Jon Gruden is not certain to be involved in the interview process that will lead to his new decision-making partner/lieutenant.

I know Mark (Davis) is going to accumulate a list of names and candidates, and I’m sure we’ll discuss those people later this week,” Gruden said (via ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez). “Right now, I don’t have any idea. … I’m not revealing any candidates because I don’t know of any.”

Jaguars player personnel director Chris Polian, Lions exec Jimmy Raye III and former Gruden Buccaneers coworker Mark Domenik have been loosely connected to the Raiders’ vacancy thus far. The team may want an executive who can push back against Gruden when necessary, per SI.com’s Albert Breer. College scouting director Shaun Herock is now filling in for McKenzie as GM, and Davis views Herock as a key organizational piece going forward. Gruden stopped short of proclaiming McKenzie’s right-hand man, player personnel director Joey Clinkscales, would have a long-term role. But Clinkscales remains in his post following McKenzie’s firing.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • With a home game against the Chargers and a road tilt in Seattle, the Chiefs have a tough back-to-back assignment coming up. Their top wide receiver likely will not be 100 percent for those games. Tyreek Hill said Sunday, via NBC Sports’ Peter King, his foot was “bad.” Hill left Sunday’s overtime win because of injury but returned, and Andy Reid expects the deep threat to play against the Bolts on Thursday. The Chiefs possessed a top-flight skill-position quartet, powering Patrick Mahomes‘ MVP candidacy, this season. But they are now without Kareem Hunt and Sammy Watkins, the latter likely out until the playoffs. Hill has not missed an NFL game due to injury. A Hill absence would make Kansas City vulnerable against a Chargers team that would move into an 11-3 tie atop the AFC West with a win. That said, the Chiefs would still hold the divisional-record tiebreaker and keep the top spot.
  • Chances for a Thursday recovery for Austin Ekeler aren’t as good. The second-year Chargers running back suffered a bruised nerve in his neck, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com, and although he played through similar discomfort earlier this season, Ekeler not playing appears to be the most likely scenario. “It’s football, yeah, but there’s a lot of life after football, too,” Ekeler said Monday. Melvin Gordon is expected to return from his MCL injury, however.
  • The 49ers drafted N.C. State’s Kentavius Street shortly after he tore his ACL in a pre-draft workout with the Giants, but the rookie defensive end may be on the verge of practicing, Kyle Shanahan said Monday. Street is on the 49ers’ NFI list and will not play in a game this season, though, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports (on Twitter). Still, practice work would help as Street prepares for a hopefully healthy 2019 offseason.
  • In case you missed it, Doug Baldwin is inactive for tonight’s Seahawks-Vikings game. Baldwin, who’s battled a knee injury most of this season, is now dealing with a hip problem.

Chiefs CEO On Release Of Kareem Hunt

Speaking for the first time publicly on the release of Kareem Hunt, Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt admitted the team knew about all three of the running back’s offseason incidents (via Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star). The CEO also hinted that the organization was instructed by the NFL to allow the league office to handle the investigation.

We did know about that, yes, we were familiar with all three of the incidents that he had had in the offseason,” said Clark Hunt. “They’d all been reported to the NFL, and the NFL was investigating them.”

At the start of the season, two known offseason incidents involving the running back were known – an altercation at a Kansas City nightclub and the ugly hotel brawl in February. The Chiefs have been long aware that Hunt also allegedly punched a man in the face in June, even though that did not surface publicly until earlier this month. Of course, the Chiefs say they did not see the footage of the hotel incident until it was leaked on Nov. 30, which is why Hunt was on the roster until that fateful day.

I don’t think we were necessarily trying to make a statement, we just felt that the best thing for the Kansas City Chiefs moving forward was for us to part ways with Kareem,” Clark Hunt said. “We were obviously shocked by the video, like anybody who saw it, and we’d had some issues with Kareem not being truthful with what happened that night, and we just really felt for everybody’s best interests we needed to head in a different direction.”

Now a free agent, Kareem Hunt is undergoing counseling for anger management and alcohol use and attending women’s group sessions. It’s unlikely that Hunt will be signed until he is formally suspended by the NFL, but several teams have already reached out to him and will continue to monitor his progress. Ray Rice was not given a second chance in the NFL after video of his assault made international headlines, but league sources expect him to suit up in 2019, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

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La Canfora’s Latest: Paton, Coughlin, McCarthy

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has seen his name come up a great deal over the past couple of years as rival clubs sought new general managers, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Paton remains one of the top candidates for teams that will be looking for a GM in 2019. The fact that Paton has withdrawn his name from consideration for GM jobs in the past have suggested to some that he does not want to leave Minnesota, but La Canfora says Paton is indeed open to taking over a franchise next year. Although he declined to interview with the Dolphins in the past, Miami would be a potential landing spot if the team were to make front office changes this offseason.

Now for more from La Canfora’s typically abundant supply of Sunday reports:

  • There have been rumblings that Jaguars team president Tom Coughlin could return to the sidelines and become Jacksonville’s head coach (again) in 2019. La Canfora noted last week that Coughlin could take over as the Jags’ HC, and the fact that the team’s 2018 campaign has been tarnished by fights, suspensions, and lack of discipline could convince Coughlin, a noted disciplinarian, to take the reins. JLC says that there is a “growing perception” around the league that Coughlin will at least consider that move.
  • It has been obvious for some time that 2018 would be Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie‘s last year with the team, and La Canfora reaffirmed as much this morning. In addition to their GM, the Raiders will also be replacing several other members of their scouting and football operations staff, per La Canfora.
  • The Chiefs and Chargers will play each other in a pivotal Week 15 bout this Thursday. La Canfora tweets that Kansas City safety Eric Berry and Los Angeles running back Melvin Gordon will both be on the field for that game, although both are inactive today.
  • La Canfora confirms that former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy will be “very judicious” about his next opportunity and may not return to the sidelines in 2019 if the right opportunity does not present itself. We have already heard that the Jets‘ opening may not be especially appealing to McCarthy, and although his connection with Cleveland GM John Dorsey has led to plenty of speculation that McCarthy could take over as the Browns‘ HC, La Canfora says the Panthers and Ravens gigs — should they open up — are more intriguing to McCarthy. Sources close to McCarthy say they do not expect him to land in Cleveland.
  • Former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is undergoing counseling for anger management and alcohol use, and he is also being mentored by a pastor and attending women’s group sessions as he attempts to prove to the league that he is ready for another opportunity. La Canfora says that no one is expected to sign Hunt until the league announces his suspension for three separate incidents, but that several teams have already reached out to him and will continue to monitor his progress and recovery. JLC’s sources say they expect Hunt to play in 2019, and Hunt himself is reportedly eager to assist the league in its investigations.

Owners To Revisit How NFL Conducts Investigations?

In the wake of the Kareem Hunt incident, some NFL owners want to reconsider how the league handles its investigations into criminal allegations made against players, The Washington Post’s Mark Maske writes

Sources tell Maske those owners would like to revise the league’s investigative methods with the possibility of considering if it should be conducting those investigations in the first place. Though some are interested in rehashing the process, it is not expected to be a large contingent and there is not believed to be a specific agenda item on the issue at the upcoming owners’ meeting in Dallas on Wednesday.

“It’s certainly an issue that needs discussion,” said one of those people with knowledge of those owners’ views, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. “Is there a way to do this better? If not, should the NFL even be in the investigative business?”

The NFL faced heavy scrutiny after security footage from a February 2018 incident at a Cleveland hotel surfaced last week of Hunt shoving a woman to the ground and kicking her. In its original investigation, the league was unable to obtain the footage to review and did not question the running back about the incident. Hunt was not punished when the incident first came to light, but after the release of the video he was placed on the Commissioners’ Exempt List and was released immediately by the Chiefs.

Maske notes the hurdles the NFL faces in conducting these independent investigations since it does not have subpoena power.

Among the leaders of the charge by the owners could be Jerry Jones, who was openly dissatisfied with the way the league handled investigation into star Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott in 2017 that resulted in a six-game suspension and a drawn-out appeals process.

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Latest On Chiefs, Kareem Hunt

In the wake of the leaked Kareem Hunt footage, many are questioning the thoroughness of investigations by the Chiefs and the NFL. According to one source who spoke with Kevin Van Valkenburg and Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, the Chiefs were instructed to stand down on their fact-finding by the NFL, who insisted that the league office would handle the investigation. 

[RELATED: More Allegations Against Kareem Hunt]

The NFL’s protocol, according to the source, is for the league to handle such investigations. Of course, it’s fair to wonder if the security tape would have been discovered sooner had the Chiefs been directed to pursue it in tandem with the NFL. It’s also unclear whether the Chiefs’ hands were really tied in the matter – if they wanted to press the hotel for the video or further information, it’s unlikely that the league could have stopped them.

As Van Valkenburg and Rothstein note, the Hunt situation may be even messier for the NFL than the Ray Rice incident. The league built up its investigative arm after Rice’s assault to better handle serious off-the-field incidents, but that system clearly failed in the case of Hunt. Hunt, who is now unemployed, will have to answer for the disturbing February incident as well as two other allegations of violence in the last 13 months.

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Latest On Kareem Hunt

More trouble may well be cropping up for Kareem Hunt. A man accused Hunt and running back George Atkinson of striking him in January at a Kansas City, Mo., nightclub, TMZ reports.

A man alleges Hunt and Atkinson were part of a group that repeatedly struck him to the point he needed to be hospitalized. This assault allegedly occurred hours after the Chiefs were eliminated from the 2017 playoffs via home wild-card loss to the Titans. Atkinson was a member of the Chiefs at the time of this incident.

This came before the incident — Hunt pushing and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel/apartment building — that has the 23-year-old’s career in jeopardy. The NFL also began to investigate Hunt for allegedly punching a man in the face in June in Ohio.

Hunt was not arrested or charged in connection with any of these incidents. Atkinson was also not charged in connection with his alleged assault. The injured man did not press charges, Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star tweets.

According to a police report, Atkinson punched the accuser in the face before “several” other suspects began striking him while he was on the ground. He identified Hunt as one of those people and accused him of kicking him while he was on the ground, William Joy of KMBC in Kansas City reports (on Twitter). Both Hunt and Atkinson kicked the man in the head, according to the police report (via Pryor, on Twitter).

No team claimed Hunt on waivers Monday. He is a free agent, but one who may not be available for much of the 2019 season. Hunt is likely to be suspended for more than six games, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) because of multiple incidents. The league is not believed to be investigating this latest accusation, but that may change soon and thus increase Hunt’s suspension.

Rapoport adds a few teams looked into a potential Hunt waiver claim but decided against making that decision due to needing more time to examine the situation. It’s likely Hunt will be unattached by the time the 2018 season concludes. But the 2017 rushing champion could, at some point in 2019, be in position to sign for more than he would have made on his rookie contract.

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Kareem Hunt Goes Unclaimed On Waivers

Former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt went unclaimed on waivers after the mandatory 24-hour period. Hunt, technically, is a free agent, though he is unlikely to be signed by any club.

Video of Hunt’s February skirmish in a Cleveland hotel leaked late last week, spelling the end of his Chiefs tenure. In the disturbing security cam footage, Hunt is seen kicking a 19-year-old woman who is down on the ground. This did not jibe with the version of events that Hunt gave to the Chiefs at the time of the incident, leading the Chiefs to cut him hours after the video went public.

Because of Hunt’s accomplishments and his cheap rookie contract, it was speculated that another team might roll the dice by claiming Hunt. After all, the Redskins claimed embattled linebacker Reuben Foster off waivers just a couple of weeks ago following his second domestic violence incident of 2019. Instead, teams opted to let Hunt and his inexpensive two years of control fall by the wayside.

It remains to seen whether Hunt will get another opportunity in the NFL. Ray Rice never saw the field again after his infamous hotel incident, but Hunt is a much more effective player than Rice was at that stage of his career. Even if Hunt draws interest, it’s unlikely that he’ll be eligible to play in Week 1 of the 2019 season. The NFL’s investigation is ongoing and it will almost certainly result in a lengthy suspension.

Hunt, 23, led the league with 1,327 rushing yards last year while adding eight scores on the ground and three through the air. He also caught 53 passes for 455 yards, positioning him as one of the best running backs in the NFL. This year, Hunt averaged 4.6 yards per carry with 14 touchdowns in total.

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