Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported on NFL Live on Monday that despite being a restricted free agent and some off-field issues, Hunt’s expectation is that he’ll be a key part of the offense in the backfield alongside Nick Chubb.
“Despite the marijuana incident he had with police and his past history, I’m being told Kareem Hunt expects to be in the Browns plans next year,” Fowler said. “He’s a restricted free agent, so he expects one of two options. Either getting a tender — he hopes is pretty high, maybe a first-round pick restricted tender. Or a long-term deal. He’d like to stay in Cleveland. Kevin Stefanski loves to run the ball. He could do it with both him and Nick Chubb.”
Hunt finished last season with 179 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also caught 37 balls out of the backfield for 285 yards. After returning to the active lineup following an eight-game suspension, Hunt split time with Chubb, who was the NFL’s second leading rusher with 1,490 yards.
Browns Owner: Kareem Hunt Has to do Better
Former Browns general manager John Dorsey — who drafted Hunt in Kansas City — signed Hunt to a deal after he was cut by the Chiefs following video of him striking a woman was released. Hunt was a model citizen after returning to the Browns active roster, even providing a leadership persona in the locker room when times were tough during a 6-10 campaign.
However, his run in with police and the subsequent video that was released was not a good look for Hunt. He was cited for speeding and had a small amount of marijuana confiscated. The officer also referenced an open bottle of alcohol in the car during the stop.
“I’ve been through a lot,” Hunt tells the officer. “I lost everything already, sir. I’m just trying to be in my hometown and chill.”
The incident did not go over well with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who spoke about his running back at a press conference this offseason.
“It’s not good. Kareem knows he’s got to do better,” Haslam said, per NFL.com. “Kevin and (new GM) Andrew (Berry) have talked to him about it and I’ll just leave it at that. What he did is not acceptable. He’s got to do better.”
Stefanski had a similar take on the incident stressing that he wants to instill a culture of accountability within the Browns organization.
“I believe in second chances, sure, but I think we’ll be very smart about the people we identify out there that we want to bring into this building,” Stefanski said. “I think Andrew mentioned smart, tough, accountable. There are different case studies, obviously, but we’ll be diligent keeping it to a group that we’re proud that they’re in this building, that they’re representing the Cleveland Browns.
“I think certainly every situation is different. But certainly with any player we’re going to have standards by how we behave when we’re not in the building and when we are in this building. I think Kareem understands that and we’re gonna move forward and we’re gonna move forward with him understanding where I stand on all those matters.”
Kareem Hunt Thinks Finishing Career in Cleveland Would be ‘Something Special’
In his first two seasons, Hunt — a Toledo product — racked up 2,151 rushing yards, 833 receiving yards. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017 as the league’s leading rusher and was on pace for another strong season before being let go by the Chiefs.
During his first season with the Browns, Hunt expressed a desire to stay in Cleveland on a long-term deal.
“Ain’t no place like home, and this is home for me, so I’d love to be in my hometown playing for a long time, maybe finish my career,” Hunt told reporters “That would be something special. You never know. I’m just excited to do whatever it takes. They’re going to get a ballplayer.”