Browns running back Kareem Hunt is heading into a contract year for the 2022 NFL season, after only appearing in eight games last year. Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com spoke on the contract situation, reporting that it seems very up in the air for now.
Hunt entered the 2021 season as the back up to Nick Chubb, racking up 361 rushing yards, along with five touchdowns before suffering a calf injury that would land him on injured reserve. He appeared in two more games after returning from injured reserve, but sat for the last four games of the season.
Cabot posits that if negotiations can be dealt with before camp is underway, it would bode well for Cleveland’s chances to keep the Hunt-Chubb tandem together. If no deal is reached by the time the season starts, though, it would be much less likely that Hunt stays in the orange and brown.
Hunt showed in Kansas City that he can be a lead back, and, with Nick Chubb firmly planted above him on the depth chart, Hunt may be willing to let this year be an audition to other teams to show that he is healthy and ready to take over lead-back responsibilities once again.
Here are a few more rumors from Cleveland, these concerning newly acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson:
- Cleveland turned a lot of heads when they gave up a package that included three first-round draft picks to acquire Watson and then gave him a fully-guaranteed contract for $230MM, despite the 22 civil lawsuits he faces for alleged sexual misconduct and sexual assault. Mike Sando of The Athletic heard from several executives from around the NFL who thought the moved reeked of desperation. Many thought the deal showed team owner Jimmy Haslam putting head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry in a bind, forcing a move the two likely wouldn’t otherwise have made. They claim the move gives Watson undue power to force decisions and do whatever he wants, saying he “doesn’t need to listen to anybody.” One executive said that rewarding Watson with the fully-guaranteed contract basically was a statement that all of his publicized issues don’t matter.
- Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic enlisted the help of Jason Fitzgerald, operator of OverTheCap.com, to talk about some of the deals made around the NFL this offseason. Fitzgerald addressed the opinion that Watson’s legal situation being ignored in the awarding of his fully-guaranteed contract will set a new precedent for guaranteed contacts around the league. “I don’t think it will,” Fitzgerald said. He continued, “I know I’m in the minority on that…He was basically a free agent. The Texans said, ‘Go out and sell yourself to these teams.’ And that was what he did…Deshaun Watson was essentially a free agent. I don’t think there’s any other quarterbacks that ever make it to free agency to where they’re even gonna have that opportunity.” He compared the situation to Kirk Cousins, when he signed his first fully-guaranteed deal, ignoring the obvious publicity issues that come with Watson’s situation. He even mentioned earlier in the article that he saw Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson pursuing a situation that will play out similar to Cousins’. So it’s strange that a couple teams later in the article, he would claim that the precedent doesn’t matter because he thinks it likely won’t happen again. Regardless, Fitzgerald seemed to acknowledge that a precedent may have been set, but minimized the importance of that precedent on the assumption that similar situations would be few and far between.