Kareem Hunt

Browns Not Planning RB Addition; Latest On Nick Chubb

With the new league year not far away, many teams around the NFL have begun restructures and cost-shedding releases to become cap compliant. In the case of the Browns, many have pointed to running back Nick Chubb as a potential cap casualty.

Chubb has one year remaining on his deal, and he is due a non-guaranteed base salary of $11.78MM for 2024. The four-time Pro Bowler will carry a cap hit of $15.83MM, though, which has resulted in speculation he could be let go in a cost-cutting move. His recovery from a major knee injury is a factor in the Browns’ decision, but Chubb should be expected to remain with the organization.

The team will engage in preliminary discussions on a Chubb extension, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveand.com notes. Talks could commence as soon as the upcoming Combine, she adds, although both sides will no doubt await clarity on his rehab before entering into a multi-year agreement. The Browns expect the 28-year-old back at some point in 2024, and a new deal would ensure he remained in place as a focal point of the offense when healthy.

Given the signs pointing to Chubb being retained, Cabot unsurprisingly adds the Browns will not be in the market for a high-priced RB addition this offseason. A number of intriguing backs are set to hit the market, including Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Josh JacobsAustin Ekeler and Tony Pollard. Rather than investing in one of them as Chubb insurance, though, Cleveland will lean on internal options. The Browns have Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong in place as candidates for a significant workload in Chubb’s absence if he misses the beginning of the campaign.

Both the Ravens and Texans have been connected to a running back pursuit this offseason, and they will have several choices given the number of backs set to be available. Another veteran in that category is Kareem Hunt, who has spent the past five seasons in Cleveland. Cabot confirms the Browns are not interested in another deal for the former Pro Bowler, though, meaning he could be in store for another lengthy wait on the open market.

The Browns are currently over the cap by a margin of nearly $20MM, though the team has a number of restructure candidates to carve out financial breathing space. Chubb could be one of them, but an extension would lower his 2024 cap hit while marking a sign of confidence from Cleveland that a full recovery is expected. It will be interesting to see how much urgency exists from team and player when talks begin.

Browns RB Kareem Hunt To Test Free Agency, Open To Return

The Browns were put in a terrible position when star running back Nick Chubb went down with multiple knee ligament tears only two weeks into the 2023 season, forcing the team to navigate 16 more weeks of football without him. Cleveland was fortunate that a former member of a formidable 1-2 punch with Chubb, Kareem Hunt, was available in free agency. While Hunt’s first couple of forays into free agency were not ideal situations, he will land on the market once again this offseason, this time on much better terms.

Hunt’s first bout with free agency had come less than a year after he led the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie with the Chiefs. Hunt was unceremoniously released by Kansas City amid the release of a videotape that showed him pushing a woman to the ground and kicking her after first being physically assaulted by the woman. He was never charged with any crime but was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list after signing a new deal with the Browns. He ended up serving an eight-game suspension as a result of the incident.

Hunt became a restricted free agent after that first season in Cleveland, eventually signing a two-year, $13.25MM contract extension. Just before the second year of the two-year deal, Hunt requested a trade from the Browns, unhappy with his contract situation. The Browns refused to honor his request, letting him play out the 2022 season on the final year of his contract. He was not re-signed this time and spent seven months in free agency.

After Chubb went out for the season, the Browns reached out, desiring Hunt’s familiarity with the team’s offense among a relatively inexperienced running backs room. Hunt would play out a one-year deal for the remainder of the season. With that season coming to an end yesterday in the Browns’ loss to the Texans, Hunt is once again destined for free agency.

This time, though, Hunt is looking forward to testing the open market. Despite not spending camp or the preseason with the team, Hunt delivered a strong contribution in 2023, scoring more rushing touchdowns this year (9) than he had in any other season of his career.

“I’m definitely going to test free agency and see what the right option is for me or what’s best for me and my family and everything,” Hunt told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “But, for the most part, this is always home for me. It’s Cleveland until I die, so I’m going to have a special place in my heart for them.”

While it sounds like a goodbye letter to Cleveland, Hunt made sure to clarify that he isn’t “closing (any) doors.” He emphasized that he will “always consider being in Cleveland over anything,” but for now, he’ll test the free agent market and see if another franchise decides they need him more.

Browns “Pleased” With Current RB Group

The Browns have made a handful of moves to account for Nick Chubb‘s season-ending injury, but that hasn’t stopped the organization from being mentioned as a potential suitor for any RBs who have been or could be made available. When asked specifically if the Browns would consider making a move for disgruntled Colts star Jonathan Taylor, GM Andrew Berry hinted that he’s content with his current running back corps.

“Because of the tampering rules, I know I can’t touch on specific players,” Berry said yesterday (h/t Scott Petrak of The Chronicle-Telegram). “We’re always active seekers, participants in the trade market, but I would say we’re pleased with the running back room.”

Jerome Ford topped 100 yards while filling in for an injured Chubb in Week 2, but since he’s entered the starting lineup, he’s put up two lackluster performances. Between the two games, Ford has been limited to 96 yards from scrimmage on 26 touches, although he did find the end zone twice in Week 3.

The team re-signed Kareem Hunt once Chubb went down, and the veteran has garnered the second-most snaps at the position for Cleveland over the past two weeks. However, the veteran RB has also struggled with a 3.9-yards-per-touch mark. Of course, Hunt could also still be finding his groove after waiting until the regular season to sign a deal.

Third-stringer Pierre Strong has put up the best numbers of the bunch, with the second-year pro averaging 5.9 yards on his 13 touches. The former Patriots fourth-round pick has served as the clear RB3 behind Ford and Hunt, and his upside could be a reason why the Browns aren’t in any rush to add reinforcement at the position.

Besides signing Hunt, the Browns also added one of Taylor’s former teammates to the practice squad. Deon Jackson started Week 1 for the Colts but was limited to only 14 rushing yards on 13 attempts. The former UDFA looked serviceable in 2022, finishing with 445 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. For the time being, he’s sitting fourth in the pecking order in Cleveland.

As Berry indicated, the Browns wouldn’t shy away from a no-brainer trade, and plenty could change between now and the October 31 trade deadline. For the time being, it sounds like the Browns will be sticking with their current running backs grouping.

RB Jerome Ford To Start In Cleveland Over Kareem Hunt

The Browns had operated with a one-two punch at running back for the past few years in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and, after Chubb’s season-ending knee injury, the two will share a position room, once again. Cleveland brought Hunt back into the fold after a six-month stay on the free agent market, hoping that he can assist the team in replacing some of Chubb’s lost production. That being said, head coach Kevin Stefanski is adamant that second-year back Jerome Ford will be the Browns’ starter moving forward, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com.

Ford, a fifth-round pick last year out of Cincinnati, surpassed his rookie year yardage total in the first game of his sophomore season, showcasing his increased role in Hunt’s absence. When Chubb went down midway through the team’s loss to the Steelers last week, Stefanski and company turned to Ford. Ford delivered, utilizing a 69-yard rush late in the game to avoid an otherwise pedestrian performance and ending up with 106 rushing yards in the loss. Pierre Strong, drafted a round before Ford last year by the Patriots, took RB2 duties but only had two touches.

“Jerome is the lead back,” Stefanski told reporters yesterday, “but we have to work through all of those types of things and what Kareem’s ready to do this week if he’s ready to go this week, and what type of load he can carry and Pierre Strong’s role. So, I think we need to work through all of that, but yes, Jerome is the starter.”

Stefanski later informed reporters that Hunt will be available to play this Sunday, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter, meaning the team intends to figure out how much Hunt can handle this weekend. While the team reportedly explored other running back options like then-Rams rusher Cam Akers, Hunt’s familiarity with Cleveland and his ability to work his way back into the offense fairly easily was a major factor in his signing.

A source had told Cabot that Hunt is down 10 pounds from his playing weight in 2022. His apparent loss of explosiveness last year was one of the reasons the Browns allowed him to walk, so perhaps he’s leaned up in an effort to gain back another step.

While his familiarity allowed him to slip back into the Browns’ offense, Hunt still has some things to learn before he becomes a regular contributor once again. He may end up eventually taking a lead role in the team’s offense if he can outperform Ford, but for now, he’ll fall back into the RB2 role he held behind Chubb for the past four years.

Browns, Kareem Hunt Agree To Terms

9:52am: A deal is in place, Cabot reports. The Browns are bringing Hunt back on a one-year contract worth up to $4MM, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. Hunt, who spent the past four seasons with his hometown team, will be asked to help fill the void Chubb’s injury has created.

9:12am: Kareem Hunt‘s six-month stay in free agency may be winding down. Nick Chubb‘s gruesome injury led to the Browns surveying options, and after they brought their former 1-B back in for a visit, a deal appears close.

The Browns and Hunt are moving toward an agreement, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. A deal is expected to come together today. This would take one of the highest-profile free agents off the market and give the Browns an accomplished back who has extensive experience in Kevin Stefanski‘s system. The parties have not crossed the goal line on this deal yet, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport indicates it should be done by the Browns’ Wednesday practice.

Cleveland has looked into Cam Akers, who looks to again be on the outs in Los Angeles, and Trey Sermon. But the latter signed with Indianapolis’ practice squad Tuesday. Hunt, 28, has always represented the simplest solution. The Browns gave the former Chiefs draftee a second chance via a 2019 agreement, after Hunt was caught on video assaulting a woman at a Cleveland hotel in 2018, and used him frequently as an overqualified Chubb backup. Hunt signed a two-year, $12MM extension in 2020 and played a key role in the Browns ended a near-two-decade playoff drought that season.

Of course, Hunt’s past two seasons have not gone as planned. Multiple injuries slowed him in 2021, an eight-game season for the former rushing champion, and he did not re-establish quality form last year. Hunt averaged 3.8 yards per carry — by far a career-low mark — and ranked miles behind Chubb in Next Gen Stats’ rushing yards over expected metric, with the starter at an NFL-best 284 and backup at minus-10. The Browns still prioritized Hunt at multiple junctures last year, refusing to accommodate a summer trade request and then hanging onto him at the deadline. But the team was prepared to move on this offseason, building its backfield around Chubb and 2022 fifth-round pick Jerome Ford.

With Cleveland previously intending to let Hunt walk, the six-year veteran lingered in free agency and was not closely tied to any team until training camp. But Hunt has been busy over the past several weeks. He has visited the Vikings, Saints and Colts. Late last week, the Colts were still in discussions with the former Chiefs third-rounder. But it appears the Browns are willing to offer a better deal in this emergency circumstance. The team did not make Hunt an offer this offseason, per Cabot, who adds Hunt is down around 10 pounds from his 2022 playing weight. The Browns are hoping Hunt’s weight loss helps him excel in the passing-down role he held for years.

Chubb came into 2023 having never missed more than four games in an NFL season, but the perennial Pro Bowler is believed to have suffered multiple ligament tears early in the Browns’ Week 2 loss in Pittsburgh. Multiple surgeries may be necessary, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets, potentially clouding Chubb’s comeback attempt. Internal discussions have pointed to a surgery occurring before month’s end and another to take place weeks later, per Anderson, who adds Chubb is also believed to have sustained meniscus damage. This marks the second time Chubb sustained a major left knee injury. The 27-year-old star battled back after suffering multiple ligament tears while at Georgia in 2015.

The Browns, who have Chubb signed through 2024, turned to Ford as his primary replacement. Buoyed by a 69-yard run in the second half of the narrow defeat, Ford totaled 16 carries for 106 yards Monday night. While the Browns had a bigger role in mind for the ex-Cincinnati and Alabama performer this season, he played behind Chubb and Hunt as a rookie and finished Week 1 with 36 yards on 15 carries.

A Ford-Hunt backfield setup will provide some insurance for the Browns, and with Stefanski’s seat warming, it is unsurprising the team did not want to rely solely on a “next man up” process. Hunt expressed dissatisfaction with his contract last year, but his 2022 showing and the events of this offseason at the position did not give him much leverage. It appears the Willoughby, Ohio, native will end up back in Cleveland on a lower-cost deal soon.

Browns Hosting Kareem Hunt On Visit; Cam Akers On Radar

3:25pm: This process is moving fast. The Browns are hosting Hunt on a Tuesday visit, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This marks Hunt’s fourth known visit this offseason. He met with the Vikings, Saints and Colts. As of this past weekend, Indianapolis still had the six-year veteran on its radar.

2:52pm: Nick Chubb‘s gruesome injury has forced the Browns to look for a running back addition. The team is in the Cam Akers trade market, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot reports Kareem Hunt is also back on the radar.

In April, a report emerged indicating the Browns were not planning to bring back Hunt, who played out a two-year, $12MM extension with his hometown team last season. But Hunt has remained a free agent for the past six months. Having visited the Colts, Saints and Vikings, the former rushing champion looms as a natural fit for the Browns, seeing as he spent the past three seasons in Kevin Stefanski‘s system.

At 24, Akers is four years younger than Hunt, who turned 28 last month. The Cleveland-area native came up in trade talks before last year’s deadline, but after Hunt completed a down season, the running back market cratered. No substantial offers have likely come Hunt’s way, leading to the longtime Chubb complementary piece remaining unattached. An interesting opportunity could soon await, though it might depend on what the Rams are willing to accept for Akers. Hunt has logged 1,106 career touches; Akers’ NFL odometer sits at 387.

At least four teams are believed to have discussed Akers with the Rams. The former second-round pick is again on the trade block, becoming a healthy scratch in Week 2. While the Rams and Akers mended fences after last year’s dustup — one that led to trade talks ahead of the 2022 deadline — Sean McVay confirmed a trade represents this latest saga’s likely endpoint.

As Chubb led the NFL in Next Gen Stats’ rushing yards over expected metric last season, with 284, Hunt finished with minus-10. Hunt gained only 678 scrimmage yards in 17 games. The 2017 rushing champ had requested a trade during the 2022 offseason, and after the Browns refused to accommodate him at that point, they were open to an in-season move. A fourth-round pick emerged as a Cleveland ask, but the team ended up hanging onto Hunt during Deshaun Watson‘s suspension. A host of lower-profile backs found deals in March, and Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott wound up with teams during training camp. Hunt and Leonard Fournette, however, have been unattached for more than six months.

Calf and ankle injuries limited Hunt in 2021; he amassed just 560 scrimmage yards that year. The ex-Chief played a major role in the Browns snapping their near-two-decade playoff drought in 2020, producing 1,145 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns alongside Chubb. During the Chubb-Hunt partnership, the latter played a much bigger passing-game role. Akers has not done much as a receiver during his pro career.

Hunt complementing 2022 fifth-rounder Jerome Ford in a similar capacity makes sense for the Browns, who did acquire Pierre Strong from the Patriots in August. Ford played the lead role following Chubb’s season-ending injury Monday night.

Going through an up-and-down career with the Rams, Akers did close the 2022 season well after seeing a July 2021 Achilles tear sidetrack him. Akers produced three straight 100-yard games from Weeks 16-18 but has seen 2022 fifth-rounder Kyren Williams usurp him in L.A.’s backfield. Akers rushed for just 29 yards on 22 carries in Week 1, with most of those totes coming after the Rams had put the Seahawks matchup out of reach.

Hunt arrived back in Cleveland during John Dorsey‘s GM stretch, reuniting with the exec who drafted him with the Chiefs. But Hunt signed the above-referenced extension during Andrew Berry‘s first year at the helm. With this looming as a crucial year for Stefanski (and perhaps Berry as well), it is logical the Browns are looking for a veteran to team with Ford, who totaled just eight carries for 12 yards last season. Trey Sermon also landed on the Browns’ radar, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, but the ex-49ers and Eagles back signed with the Colts’ P-squad.

Colts In Communication With RBs Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette

With their Jonathan Taylor-less backfield still in flux due to injuries, the Colts remain interested in a free agent addition at the running back spot. As a result, they are in talks with two of the top options still available.

Indianapolis has communicated with both Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The former met with the Colts last month as part of his late-offseason free agent tour, though no deal materialized. Hunt also drew interest from the Saints and Vikings, but they too elected not to sign him in advance of the regular season.

The former Chief and Brown was reported to have received four offers around the time of final roster cuts, but he has remained patient on the open market. Hunt would have a path to immediate playing time with the Colts for the time being, giving the absence of Taylor until at least Week 5. That is the earliest point at which the 2021 rushing champion can suit up in Indianapolis, though a trade sending him elsewhere is still in the cards. A lead role will be unlikely for Hunt in 2023, however, barring further injury developments around the league.

The same holds true for Fournette, whose release request was granted by the Buccaneers in February. The 28-year-old lost his starting role to Rachaad White in the 2022 campaign, and in the wake of Tom Brady‘s retirement, he favored a fresh start. Not much in the way of interest was shown in him through the offseason, however, with the Patriots hosting him on a workout but coming away unimpressed with his conditioning. It will be interesting to see if the Colts’ interest rises to the point of bringing him in for a free agent visit in the near future.

Indianapolis lost another member of its backfield in Week 1 with Evan Hull suffering a knee injury. He is now on IR and will thus miss at least the next four weeks of the season. The fifth-round rookie’s absence adds to Taylor’s stay on the PUP list, and questions remain regarding when Zack Moss will be able to suit up after recovering from a broken arm. The Colts worked out Darrell Henderson earlier this week, so Hunt and Fournette will have competition for a roster spot if they match the team’s interest in a potential deal. In any case, a move at the RB spot could be coming soon in Indianapolis.

Latest On RB Kareem Hunt

Teams around the NFL are currently occupied with roster gymnastics, but a few big-name free agents have still yet to land a deal of any kind over the course of the offseason. One of those is running back Kareem Huntwho continues to draw interest.

Four teams have made an offer to the 28-year-old recently, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. None have been sufficient to produce an agreement, though, despite the actions of teams like the Saints, Colts and Vikings. Each of those clubs hosted Hunt on a free agent visit, and New Orleans in particular was reported to be prepared to sign him pending the result of a physical.

Instead, the former rushing champion remains unsigned like a number of veteran backs. The position has seen its financial value take another hit this offseason, and it comes as little surprise that Hunt needed to wait deep into free agency for tangible interest to pick up. He spent the past four years in Cleveland, splitting handoffs with Nick Chubb and operating as an effective pass-catcher. Hunt averaged 4.2 yards per carry with the Browns, totaling 973 yards and seven touchdowns on 132 catches during his tenure with the team.

It can likely be presumed that New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minnesota represent three of the four offers Hunt has weighed but ultimately turned down. Even without Alvin Kamara for the first three games of the season, the Saints have a number of options in their backfield, one which will be crowded after the five-time Pro Bowler’s return. The Colts still have Jonathan Taylor in the fold after a trade could not be worked out (though he will start the year on the PUP list). The Vikings, meanwhile, added pass-catcher Myles Gaskin earlier today to give them an experienced depth option behind starter Alexander Mattison.

Hunt still has time to find an opportunity which will yield a 53-man roster spot and notable playing time. He will need to move quickly, however, if he is to have a deal in place by the time the regular season kicks off. If the interest which has existed in recent weeks continues, an agreement could be coming soon.

Vikings Host RB Kareem Hunt

Kareem Hunt‘s free agency tour continues. After visiting with the Saints and Colts earlier this week, the running back is meeting with the Vikings today, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Kareem Hunt Leaves Colts Visit Without Deal]

It was relatively quiet on the Hunt front until earlier this week, when the veteran running back was in New Orleans and Indianapolis for visits. He left both of those workouts with contracts, but it’s now clear Hunt is weighing multiple opportunities before making a decision.

Hunt found a home in Cleveland over the past four seasons, including a 2020 campaign where he finished with 1,145 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns. His 2022 campaign started with a trade request and ended with him averaging a career-low 9.3 touches per game in 17 games for Cleveland, and he’s remain unsigned through this point of the offseason.

Similar to both the Saints and Colts, the Vikings could offer Hunt a somewhat significant role on offense. Alexander Mattison is expected to take over for Dalvin Cook in the backfield, but the team lacks experienced depth behind their new starter. Ty Chandler got into three games as a rookie, Kene Nwangwu has been injured during training camp, and rookie seventh-round pick DeWayne McBride is likely destined for a ST role.

Hunt’s pass-catching ability could make him a worthy third-down option, and he’s shown the ability to be productive in a starting role while filling in for Nick Chubb in Cleveland. The Vikings are currently armed with more than $10MM in cap space, providing them with some financial might over Hunt’s other two suitors. The Saints reportedly backloaded their offer to Hunt with incentives while keeping the total amount roughly on par with what the Colts are prepared to pay without bonuses.

Colts Sign Two Free Agents; RB Kareem Hunt Leaves Without Deal

The Colts made a few transactions today including the signings of running back Jason Huntley and tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, according to the team’s Twitter account. While the added depth is surely appreciated, it is likely a bit disappointing for Colts fans following the free agency activity surrounding running back Kareem Hunt.

Shortly after leaving New Orleans without a new contract, Indianapolis becomes the second straight visit that doesn’t result in a deal for the veteran rusher, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Hunt reportedly had a “great” visit with the Saints before making his way up to Indiana. The two locations he’s visited recently have situations that could allow for some early playing time. The Saints will be down a running back as Alvin Kamara serves a three-game suspension to start the year due to his role in a violent altercation a year and a half ago. New Orleans does still have a strong rusher at the top of the depth chart after signing Jamaal Williams this offseason, but the depth behind Williams is fairly inexperienced.

The Colts, on the other hand, may be getting a little desperate. Jonathan Taylor took his holdout to another level yesterday, leaving camp to rehabilitate his ankle injury. As backups Zack Moss and Deon Jackson are dealing with their own injuries, the Colts are currently relying only on recent signee Kenyan Drake and a trio of inexperienced options.

Hunt reportedly fielded offers from both teams with guaranteed money proving to be the main difference. While offering around the same amount that the Colts are expected to pay, the Saints’ deal includes more incentives that will make Hunt earn the money without guarantees.

Huntley and Seals-Jones appear to be depth signings to help Indianapolis make it through the preseason healthy. Huntley has only appeared in six games over his first three NFL seasons after getting drafted in the fifth round by the Eagles. He only has 18 rushes for 70 yards in his young career.

Seals-Jones likely has a better chance to push for a roster spot in 2023. Mo Alie-Cox and Jelani Woods are both dealing with injuries heading into the preseason, and Seals-Jones has some solid experience. Appearing in games for four teams over his five years in the league, Seals-Jones has seen spurts of success throughout his career. The converted college wide receiver saw career-highs in 2018 in receptions (34) and receiving yards (343) and caught four touchdowns the following year. Only two seasons ago, he started six games in Washington. He missed all of last season while dealing with a toe injury but could bring some quality starting experience for the Colts if healthy.

In order to make room on the roster for Huntley and Seals-Jones, the Colts waived/injured tight end La’Michael Pettway and safety Michael Tutsie.