Kareem Hunt

Rams Pursued OLB, OL, RB Help; Team Was Not In On Cooks, Hunt At Deadline

The Rams’ success after in-season trades for Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller likely impacted other teams’ plans at this year’s deadline, but the defending Super Bowl champions sat out this year’s final stretch of trading. This was not due to roster contentment or lack of trying, however.

The 3-4 team is believed to have made a monster offer for Brian Burns and lost out to the 49ers for Christian McCaffrey, with a San Francisco fourth-round pick potentially being the difference for Carolina. But the Rams also pursued offensive line and wide receiver aid at this year’s deadline, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required).

Los Angeles has seen its offense crater this season. No Sean McVay-led Rams team has finished outside the top 11 in total offense; this year’s iteration ranks 30th. Injuries at almost every offensive line position, to starters and backups, have limited the Rams considerably. Allen Robinson not following the likes of Brandin Cooks or Odell Beckham Jr. as quick studies in McVay’s attack has also affected the Rams, who rank 28th in scoring. The team opted not to swing a deal before Tuesday’s deadline, however.

Although the Browns discussed Kareem Hunt before the deadline, Rodrigue notes the Rams were not a serious suitor. The Eagles were believed to be the team that would have landed Hunt, if the Browns were legitimately interested in moving him. Shortly after a Monday-night blowout of the Bengals, the Browns seemed to back off on this front. Hunt is now set to play out his Cleveland contract ahead of free agency.

McVay has attempted a few backfield solutions this season, but none has done much to help the reigning champs’ cause. The Rams rank 31st in rushing and have not seen Cam Akers (three yards per carry) return to the form he showed before his July 2021 Achilles tear. They have seen left tackle Joe Noteboom, third-round rookie guard Logan Bruss and backup guard Tremayne Anchrum suffer season-ending injuries. The team has also played extensively without center Brian Allen, who has since returned, and left guard David Edwards (who has not). Right guard Coleman Shelton also remains on IR.

Akers, who said this week he did not request a trade, became a trade chip for the Rams. But they could not reach an agreement to unload the third-year back. Akers returned to practice this week and is not on L.A.’s injury report, clearing a path to an unexpected return to the Rams’ offense.

Additionally, the Rams were mentioned as interested in a Cooks reunion. They did pursue this, per Rodrigue, but were not in the running for the oft-traded wideout in the days leading up to the deadline. The Texans made it clear they were not planning to eat any of Cooks’ $18MM 2023 guarantee. This and an asking price of second- and fourth-round picks — more than they gave up to acquire Cooks from the Rams in 2020 — cooled down the market. Cooks, who is tied to a two-year deal worth $39MM he signed in April, is planning to rejoin the Texans after a trade-related dispute led to his missing their Thursday game.

The Rams have made big moves at the deadline under McVay. Their Dante Fowler acquisition in 2018 helped that edition to Super Bowl LIII. Ramsey and Austin Corbett (2019) made big differences in the 2020 and ’21 teams advancing in the playoffs, and Miller significantly moved the needle last season. The Rams have not replaced Miller, whom they aggressively attempted to retain in free agency, leading to the Burns pursuit.

The Rams did “everything they could” to try and land Burns, a GM informed the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora. It is somewhat surprising the Panthers would turn down an offer of two first-round picks for a one-time Pro Bowler who has yet to post his first 10-sack season, the Rams would have needed to include 2024 and 2025 first-rounders. GM Scott Fitterer, who was hired during the Matt Rhule period, may not have been too keen on not picking up a prime 2023 asset in the deal. Reports of L.A.’s Burns offer being rebuffed will only bolster the fourth-year Carolina edge rusher’s extension value, when that time comes.

After seeing their Burns push fail, the Rams have not been mentioned as being involved in the Bradley Chubb sweepstakes. While they may well have been one of the 10-plus teams to call the Broncos on the then-contract-year pass rusher, the Dolphins including a first-round pick would have given the Rams — who again are without their 2023 first-rounder — an uphill battle.

Barring a long-rumored Beckham reunion, the Rams will attempt to defend their NFC West title without a splashy addition. They will enter their post-deadline stretch 1.5 games behind the surprising Seahawks.

Eagles Pursued Kareem Hunt, Nyheim Hines

The league’s top rushing offense in yards and touchdowns from last season, and this season’s last remaining unbeaten team, was still looking to get better by the trade deadline. The Eagles were able to acquire some pass rushing help, adding defensive end Robert Quinn in a trade with the Bears, but despite attempts at multiple prospects, they were unable bring in a big name at running back, according to Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports.

Last year’s top rushing team was led by then-second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts and his 784 rushing yards. A number of running backs contributed behind Hurts, the main contributor being lead back Miles Sanders with his 754 rushing yards. Boston Scott was next on the depth chart, starting four of the five games Sanders missed and adding 373 yards on 87 carries. After spending much of the beginning of the year on the practice squad, Jordan Howard came up to the active roster and rushed for 406 yards on one less carry than Scott. Then-rookie Kenneth Gainwell rounded out the group with 291 yards rushing.

So why did last year’s top rushing offense need a new running back? It appears that Philadelphia was targeting running backs that could catch passes out of the backfield. The rookie Gainwell served as the Eagles’ pass-catching back in 2021, nearly matching his rushing total with 253 yards on 33 catches. Sanders, naturally, caught some passes as the starter, as well, grabbing 26 receptions for 158 yards. According to Vacchiano, the two most talked about targets for the Eagles at the trade deadline were Browns running back Kareem Hunt and former Colts running back Nyheim Hines.

Hunt displayed his proficiency as a pass catching back during his early years in Kansas City. Hunt’s two years with the Chiefs were his biggest receiving seasons with 455 yards on 53 receptions as a rookie and 378 yards on 26 catches in Year 2. Since leaving Kansas City, Hunt has taken the backseat to Nick Chubb in Cleveland. The Browns expected him to fill both the roles of Carlos Hyde, Chubb’s primary backup, and Duke Johnson, the team’s pass catching specialist out of the backfield. Although Chubb does a good amount of receiving himself in Cleveland, Hunt has, for all intents and purposes, filled those roles when available.

Hines has cut his teeth in the NFL as a pass catching running back. In five years since coming out of NC State, he has accumulated more receiving yards (1,725) than rushing yards (1,205). Hines has spent his entire NFL career with the Colts and was reportedly a favorite of Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, who served as Hines’s offensive coordinator from 2018-2020.

Regardless, the trade deadline has come and passed, and neither Hunt nor Hines reside in Philadelphia. Hunt stayed put, remaining in Cleveland to back up Chubb in an offense that will soon see the return of Deshaun Watson. Hines is no longer in Indianapolis, though, after being the main piece in a trade between the Colts and Bills. The Bills were similarly looking for diversity in their backfield which sported Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and rookie James Cook, none of whom are prolific in the passing game. Now, with Hines, the Bills have a prime pass catching threat out of the backfield to compliment Singletary and Cook (Moss was sent to Indianapolis in the trade).

The Eagles will roll forward with what’s worked for them this year and last. Hurts still remains a large part of the rushing attack, although he no longer leads the team. The starter, Sanders, has really taken charge of the group, leading the team with 563 rushing yards through seven games so far this season. Gainwell and Scott have split carries behind Sanders to fairly limited success. A new face to compliment Sanders in the running backs room would’ve filled a slight hole in the roster of what looks like the team to beat in the NFC right now, but the Eagles didn’t deem the solutions worth the cost it would take to acquire them. They’ll move forward with the team they have for the rest of the year.

Trade Rumors: Broncos, Cooks, Akers, Hunt, Cowboys, Lions, 49ers

Brandin Cooks is available, and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) the Texans are in discussions involving the ninth-year receiver. But Cooks’ $18MM guaranteed 2023 salary — which came to pass after Houston re-signed him on a two-year, $39MM pact in April — has proven to be an impediment here. Teams are not moving on Cooks unless the Texans pick up a chunk of that salary. Cooks, 29, was linked to giving up some guaranteed money to facilitate a trade back to the Rams. But it is unlikely he will give up too much cash to be moved. The Giants and Vikings have also been connected to the thrice-traded Cooks. For what it’s worth, Cooks was not at Texans practice Tuesday. Personal reasons — not an imminent trade — are believed to be behind Cooks’ absence, NFL.com’s Garafolo tweets.

With the deadline in less than three hours, here is the latest from the trade front:

  • The Broncos have told teams they are not conducting a fire sale, SI.com’s Albert Breer notes. A Bradley Chubb trade still could commence, but NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo hears (video link) the team is holding out for a better offer. Denver has been linked to not only wanting a first-round pick for Chubb but two firsts. With the latter price range unlikely to take shape, the Broncos figure to be put to a major decision today. Jerry Jeudy remains unlikely to be moved, per Garafolo.
  • No Cam Akers trade is imminent, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports tweets. The Rams have been looking for a trade partner to unload their 2020 second-round pick. This situation may not be as icy as previously believed, however. Akers was once rumored to be done with the Rams, but he is now prepared to return to the team if no trade occurs this afternoon.
  • Prior to acquiring James Robinson from the Jaguars, the Jets looked into Kareem Hunt, Breer notes. The Browns have dangled Hunt for the price of a fourth-round pick, but the former rushing champion may now be set to stay in Cleveland for at least this season’s remainder. Hunt, 27, should be expected to hit free agency if no trade goes down today.
  • The Lions may not be done dealing. After sending T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings, the rebuilding NFC North squad has informed teams it remains open for business. Defensive back is one of the areas in which Detroit is willing to deal, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones tweets. Contract-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye would appear to be one name available. While Jeff Okudah arrived before the Brad Holmes regime took over, it would still be surprising if Detroit moved on from the former No. 3 overall pick.
  • In addition to making defensive end Tarell Basham available, the Cowboys are open to moving defensive tackle Trysten Hill, Breer adds. Dallas has not seen the former second-round pick develop into a starter but has used him as a part-time player throughout this season. The team just added Johnathan Hankins via trade and has rookie-contract performers Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna ahead of Hill. Basham has only played in one game this season (Week 1) and remains on IR. The Cowboys designated the former third-round edge rusher for return late last month, however.
  • The 49ers have already made their big trade splash, sending four picks to the Panthers for Christian McCaffrey. Kyle Shanahan said (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area) the phone lines are always open, but the team does not expect to make another move.

Browns Not Looking To Trade Kareem Hunt?

The Browns are not expected to be particularly active on the trade front today, but one name frequently thought to be on the move has been running back Kareem Hunt. Despite what is believed to be a modest asking price in a trade, Cleveland could opt to keep the veteran for the remainder of the season.

CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reports that the Browns’ preference would be to keep Hunt (Twitter link). She also acknowledges, however, that a deal in free agency after his contract expires is unlikely to take place, something which has fueled speculation that a change of scenery will be coming by today’s trade deadline.

Such consideration picked up in the summer, of course, when the 27-year-old requested a trade. His projected workload behind starter Nick Chubb was seen as a reason, along with his contract situation. In a firm commitment to the ground game (especially to begin the season with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback), however, Cleveland kept their backfield tandem intact.

Hunt has seen a consistent rotational role in the team’s offense this season, and received double-digit carries for the sixth time during last night’s win over the Bengals. He also made four catches for 30 yards, demonstrating his value in the passing game to any acquiring teams looking for insurance in the second half of the season. It was reported yesterday that the Eagles are interested in adding Hunt, as they look to bolster the league’s last remaining undefeated roster.

When asked about the possibility of yesterday marking his final game with the Browns, Hunt said, via NFL.com’s Nick Shook, “I mean, I’m down for whatever. I’m a football player and this is a business. So I’m ready to do whatever they decide with me. That’s either go somewhere else or here, anything it don’t matter.”

Suggesting even further that his time with his hometown team is about to end, he added, “I mean, you know I’m from the city of Cleveland so I guess I’m happy we won. So yes, that’s the right way to go out.”

The 3-5 Browns have a matter of hours remaining to decide whether or not to keep Hunt and look to make further progress in the AFC, or add to the noteworthy moves which have already taken place around the league.

Eagles Potential Kareem Hunt Suitors?

One major domino has already fallen at the running back position with respect to trades, and another one could soon follow. Browns veteran Kareem Hunt is expected to be on the move between now and the trade deadline, and a potential suitor for him has been identified.

Ralph Vacchiano of FOX Sports tweets that the Eagles are a team to watch with respect to acquiring Hunt. Doing so, it is now believed, will cost a fourth-round pick. That would allow the Browns to receive some form of compensation prior to the league year (when Hunt will be a free agent), while honoring the 27-year-old’s initial desire to be moved, which dates back to the summer.

Continuing to operate as Nick Chubb‘s backup, Hunt has been a steady contributor for the Browns this season. He received double-digit carries in each of the first five games of the year, as the team leaned even more heavily than usual on the run game while awaiting the return of Deshaun Watson from his suspension. He has, on the other hand, averaged 4.0 yards per carry in 2022, the lowest mark of his career.

Still, his pass-catching ability (which has translated to 87 yards and a score so far this year) would make Hunt a useful acquisition for a contending team. The Eagles – who made an offer on Christian McCaffrey – would certainly qualify as such. They rank fifth in the league in rushing, averaging just under 150 yards per game on the ground en route to a 7-0 record.

Hunt’s deal carries a base salary of just $1.35MM for the season, so he would be a cost-effective addition to Philadelphia’s backfield (and one the team would be better-positioned to afford than most). His carries total would be strictly limited by the presence of lead back Miles Sanders, not to mention quarterback Jalen Hurts, but pass-catching duties would leave him with a notable role in their elite offense.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman has shown a willingness to make splash moves as recently as this April’s draft, executing a deal with the Saints which landed them extra 2023 capital and acquiring wideout A.J. Brown for a first-round pick. A rental deal for Hunt would carry far less significance, presumably, but it would add further to the pieces the team has to work with as they aim for another Super Bowl run.

Latest On Rams’ Trade Deadline Plans

The Rams certainly bolstered the team which ultimately won the Super Bowl with their midseason moves last year. They are once again being looked at as potential buyers in the 2022 trade market, but appear unlikely to make major additions in the coming days.

The name most closely linked with the team has been Texans wideout Brandin Cooks. The 29-year-old spent two years in Los Angeles, after the Rams traded a first-round pick to the Patriots to acquire him in 2018. He posted a career-high 1,204 receiving yards in the regular season that year, playing a large role in the team’s postseason run to the Super Bowl as well. His numbers dropped off considerably the following year, and he was then dealt to Houston.

Over the past two years with the Texans, Cooks has proven himself to still be one of the top vertical threats in the league (2,187 yards, 12 touchdowns). With Houston residing in the basement of the AFC, though, the Oregon State product also represents a logical trade candidate. He is reportedly willing to lower his 2023 salary (currently a fully-guaranteed $18MM) to facilitate a move back to Los Angeles.

Peter King of NBC Sports notes that the Rams are indeed a candidate to add a speed receiver such as Cooks (provided the financial burden of taking on his contract is lessened). Notably, though, King adds that a move to upgrade the WR room could involve the Rams trading away Allen Robinson. A free agent signing from March, the 29-year-old joined Los Angeles on a three-year, $46.5MM deal. Seen as a Robert Woods replacement to complement Cooper Kupp, Robinson has yet to eclipse 63 yards in a game so far and has scored just two touchdowns.

Elsewhere on offense, King reports that the Rams have little-to-no interest in two other players who could be on the move today or tomorrow: Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil and Browns running back Kareem Hunt. Both positions have emerged as sore spots for Los Angeles this season; Joe Noteboom is out for the season with a torn Achilles, while Cam Akers has fallen out of favor with head coach Sean McVay.

Tunsil could shore up the team’s pass protection, though a 2022 restructure of his deal leaves him with a prohibitive cap hit of over $35MM next year. Hunt, meanwhile, could reportedly be had for a fourth-round pick as he is set to hit free agency in March.

The Rams currently have just under $5MM in cap space, so a deal of some kind could be coming soon. Outside of a reunion with Cooks, however, the defending champions could have a much quieter trade deadline than last season.

Browns’ Kareem Hunt Available For Trade?

OCTOBER 30: Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms Fowler’s report that Cleveland is willing to deal Hunt and would like a fourth-round pick in return. Florio now seems to be in agreement on this point as well and says that it is “starting to feel inevitable” that Hunt will be traded by Tuesday’s deadline.

OCTOBER 26: This summer, Kareem Hunt requested a trade. The Browns, bracing for a significant Deshaun Watson suspension that would force them to lean more on their run game, resisted and communicated to Hunt his importance to the team season. Less than a week ahead of the trade deadline, they may be ready to reverse course.

Certain teams believe Hunt available for the price of a fourth-round pick, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes the price is believed to be much higher. Cleveland, per Florio, is believed to want a Christian McCaffrey-type package for Hunt. Obviously a sizable gap exists between these two values, with a McCaffrey-level haul probably wishful thinking. But Hunt’s name being circulated is interesting by itself.

The Browns initially took a gamble by signing the once-embattled running back, who went from NFL rushing champion to a player the Chiefs waived after a video circulated that showed him assaulting a woman at a Cleveland hotel. Since serving an eight-game suspension, the Cleveland-area native has become the 1-B option in one of the better NFL backfield duos to emerge this century. But Nick Chubb has been Cleveland’s 1-A since this tandem formed. Chubb’s salary reflects it, and Hunt is running out of time to cash in again.

Hunt signed a two-year, $12MM extension just before the 2020 season. While that move represented a nice payment for a player who had severely damaged his NFL stock, lower-profile backs passed Hunt as the market shifted.

Even around the time Hunt reupped with the Browns, standouts like Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon inked deals worth double Hunt’s per-year figure. This year, Chase Edmonds, James Conner and Leonard Fournette each passed Hunt as well. Chubb is tied to a three-year, $36.6MM extension, illustrating the Browns’ view of their backfield situation. Hunt’s $6MM-AAV mark sits 15th at the position.

Hunt’s contract-year salary is just $1.35MM, meaning a team would owe the sixth-year back barely half that by trading for him. However, the potential for Hunt to be had for a fourth-round pick appears to stem from the $200K-per-game roster bonuses, Fowler adds. That said, one GM who spoke to the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora said Hunt would be the best back available and “it’s not even close.”

It is worth wondering where Hunt’s career would be had the assault not occurred. The former third-round pick won the rushing title as a rookie and was on pace for better numbers in Patrick Mahomes‘ first season as Kansas City’s starter. Although Hunt’s 1,145 scrimmage yards contributed to the Browns snapping their playoff drought in 2020, that figure came in below even his 11-game 2018 season (1,202 yards, 14 touchdowns). This season, Chubb’s carry count (126) has nearly doubled Hunt’s (66).

At 27, Hunt would still stand to draw interest on the 2023 market — which could feature one of the deeper running back groups in free agency history — and the suspension did conserve the Toledo product some mileage. Still, Hunt’s age will work against him in free agency. A trade to a team willing to extend him would be an interesting development.

No deal should be considered likely until deadline day. The Browns are 2-5 and clinging to the prospect of Watson returning to revive their season, and Monday night’s Bengals matchup could represent the team’s last window to that reality. But the Browns still have Watson-less games against the Bills, Buccaneers and Dolphins. Staying in contention until Watson’s December debut will be difficult, which will put the franchise to a decision on Hunt. With the Watson trade’s historic cost stripping the Browns of draft capital, collecting picks for Hunt appears to be a route the team will consider.

Browns Not Interested In Kareem Hunt Trade

With their preferred starting quarterback out until December, the Browns will need another strong season from their ground attack. Kareem Hunt should be expected to be part of that effort.

The team has no intention of granting trade request Hunt made earlier this month, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot (via the Pat McAfee Show). Hunt should be expected to be with the Browns throughout the season, Cabot offers. Considering the former rushing champion’s importance to an offense suddenly featuring questions at quarterback and wide receiver, it is unsurprising the Browns plan to hold onto their high-end backup.

Browns brass has communicated to Hunt they want him in Cleveland this season, Cabot adds. Hunt is going into the final season of the two-year, $12MM extension he signed back in 2020. Since Hunt attempted to stage a hold-in measure upon requesting to be moved — an effort that lasted two days — he has since returned to full practice. Hunt aimed for a Browns extension this offseason but remains tied to a deal that has since been outpaced by several backs.

Deshaun Watson‘s 11-game suspension certainly stands to amplify the Browns’ run game, and Hunt — as one of the best backup running backs in recent NFL history — will be one of its crucial components behind Nick Chubb. The team also has D’Ernest Johnson, whom it re-signed this offseason, crowding the backfield.

Chubb’s three-year, $36.6MM deal is in line with the new going rate for starting backs, but this price range mostly formed after Hunt signed his deal. Since September 2020, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook and Aaron Jones signed for between $12MM and $15MM per year. Christian McCaffrey tops the class and the running back market altogether ($16MM AAV). Hunt’s AAV dropped further, to 14th among running backs this offseason, when James Conner, Leonard Fournette and Chase Edmonds signed deals north of $6MM per annum.

Of course, Hunt signed his contract coming off a year in which he served an eight-game suspension in connection with multiple off-field incidents in 2018 — including a video that showed him assaulting a woman — and opted to remain Chubb’s often-used backup rather than trying to see what he could get on the 2021 market. Considering what the 2021 market became — thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic leading to a reduced salary cap — that may have been a good decision. But the contract he is currently tied to is out of step considering his talents and place as a former rushing champion.

Hunt turned 27 this month. His place alongside Chubb has allowed him to limit wear and tear compared to his Chiefs stretch. Hunt logged 325 touches as a rookie in Kansas City. His top Browns total is 236, from 2020. Last season, injuries limited the Cleveland-area native to eight games (100 touches). Hunt’s reduced mileage could still allow him do well on the 2023 market, but he will need to stay healthy to best position himself here.

Browns RB Kareem Hunt Requests Trade

Aug. 7: It sounds as if Hunt has made a formal trade request, per Cabot. As expected, the Browns maintain that they have no intention of honoring that request. Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports believes this situation could end with a pay increase for Hunt (Twitter link), and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com says Hunt would have trade value if Cleveland does choose to explore that option (Twitter link). Per Fowler, some evaluators consider Hunt a top-10 RB talent.

Aug. 6: There have been questions concerning running back Kareem Hunt‘s future with the Browns going into a contract year dating back to the early months of the offseason. It didn’t initially seem like there was any drama as both parties were taking a bit of a lackadaisical approach to negotiations that seemed inevitable, but now, with the regular season breathing down his neck, Hunt appears to be acting more boldly. Hunt sat out of team drills for the second consecutive practice today, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, telling the Browns he only plans on participating in individual drills. 

Reports in May described the contract situation as up in the air, positing that, if the two parties failed to deal with negotiations before camp, it would likely decrease the odds of Hunt staying in Cleveland past this year. Only a week later, further reports claimed that, despite the lack of certainty concerning his future, Hunt was “still very much in the Browns’ plans for this season,” saying that the team had no plans of dealing or releasing Hunt due to the lack of substantive extension negotiations.

It took a couple more weeks before Hunt finally voiced his opinion that he wanted to re-sign with the Browns, desiring an extension but choosing to take things “day by day” in mid-June. Upon reaching full health soon after, Hunt made further comments toward his contract situation.

“I hope I get paid,” Hunt said. “So you know, whatever they decide, they know I’m going to come out there and give it my all and I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win.”

That apparently only applies to the regular season, considering Hunt’s new preseason plans. The two recent “partial hold-ins” were “the first time since training camp that Hunt didn’t participate” in team drills. Cleveland is able to, and likely will, subject him to fines for his lack of participation.

Hunt’s agent was reportedly at the Browns’ facility earlier this week, presumably to work on a potential new deal for the 27-year-old. According to Anderson, members of the team have said that “he wants to get paid or traded.” The belief is that he would truly prefer to remain in Cleveland, he just wants to be paid what he’s worth.

The Browns were fine slow-playing a new deal for Hunt after he missed nine games last year between injuries and COVID-19. Because of the missed time and how the second year of his contract is set up, it made sense that Cleveland would be okay allowing Hunt to play out his contract year and revisit a new contract after the season. They seemed to be taking their lead from Hunt, but now, with Hunt’s new decision to be more vocal about his desires, they’re in the uncomfortable position of having to deal with negotiations in the weeks leading up to the regular season.

As a native of Willoughby, OH, Hunt made it known recently that he would like to eventually end his career in Cleveland, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Unfortunately for Hunt, he doesn’t hold much leverage. A plethora of running backs who can contribute and a contract that doesn’t much penalize the team for waiting stacks the deck against Hunt.

Hunt is expected to be the Browns’ No.2 running back behind star running back Nick Chubb. D’Ernest Johnson and Demetric Felton both had opportunities to show their stuff in Hunt’s absence last year, and rookie fifth-round pick Jerome Ford has shown some serious potential coming into the league. The combination of contributing running backs has the potential to make Hunt redundant, especially if he decides to continue holding out.

Hunt certainly has the talent to be a starting running back in this league, as displayed during his rookie year in Kansas City, and he likely wants to get paid like it. Unfortunately, the situation is against him, so he’s taken to drastic measures in order to try to achieve his means. With the first preseason game for Cleveland six days away and the regular season starting in just over a month, time is running out for the two parties to come to terms.

Browns RB Kareem Hunt Fully Healthy

Kareem Hunt missed about half of the 2021 campaign thanks to various injuries. Fortunately for the running back, he used the offseason to get fully healthy. Hunt told Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal that he’s good to go heading into training camp.

[RELATED: RB Kareem Hunt Wants To Re-Sign With Browns]

“I’m good, I’m 100%,” Hunt said. “I have some time to heal this offseason and get back to it. So body is feeling good, nothing’s bothering me.”

2021 was a tough season from a health perspective for Hunt. He suffered a calf injury in October that sidelined him to miss five games. He ended up returning for a pair of games, but an ankle injury (and a stint on the COVID list) ultimately ended his season early. While the Browns chose to shut down Hunt prematurely, the running back admitted that he would have pushed through the injury and played had Cleveland had a better shot at making the postseason.

“You know, it’s tough because I’m not used to sitting at home and watching some games on the couch and stuff like that,” Hunt said. “So it was kind of a weird thing. I don’t like that feeling not being able to go out there and help the team so it was very tough.”

When Hunt was on the field in 2021, he was plenty productive. He averaged 5.6 yards on his 100 touches, finishing with 560 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. He’ll rejoin a depth chart that still includes the likes of Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson. The Browns are also rostering Demetric Felton and rookie Jerome Ford.

While Hunt is focused on getting back on the field, he also has a slight distraction in his impending free agency. We previously heard that the running back was open to signing a new deal with the Browns, and he reiterated that desire to Easterling.

“I hope I get paid,” Hunt said. “So you know, whatever they decide, they know I’m going to come out there and give it my all and I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win.”