The move means that any team that plans to pry hunt from Cleveland would send the Browns the steep price of a second-round pick. And as a restricted free agent, the Browns could match any deal that teams offer Hunt.
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 Nick Chubb, who was the NFL’s second leading rusher with 1,490 yards.
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 Kansas City.
Former Browns general manager John Dorsey — who drafted Hunt in Kansas City — signed Hunt after he was cut by the Chiefs following video of him striking a woman was released. Hunt was mostly 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.
Browns Have Set Clear Expectation for Kareem Hunt
There’s no doubt Hunt still has the talent to be a game changer in the NFL. But he has to work on keeping his problems off the field in check.
He had an off-season incident where he was pulled over by police in Cleveland for speeding. The officer searched Hunt’s car and found a small amount of marijuana and an open bottle of alcohol. Hunt was just given a ticket for speeding, but a video was released of the stop where the running back pleads with the officer.
“It hurts my soul,” Hunt adds, an apparent reference to his former team, the Kansas City Chiefs, playing in the Super Bowl. “You don’t even understand. I’ve been fighting a lot of [expletive] lately. It still hurts me to this day.”
Browns general manager Andrew Berry addressed the incident with Hunt during his introductory press conference.
“With Kareem, we’ve communicated our expectations for him moving forward,” Berry said. “We want guys who are going to be smart, tough and accountable on and off the field. Kareem understands that.”
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was a little more stern.
“It’s not good,” Haslam said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “Kareem knows he’s got to do better. Kevin and Andrew 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.’’
Browns Tender Multiple Exclusive Rights Free Agents
Brown, a tight end, caught two passes for 27 yards last season with the Browns, but played a role as a blocker. Hilliard ran 13 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns and also played a role on special teams returning kicks. Hodge also played a key role on special teams and caught four passes for 76 yards.
Exclusive rights free agents have the option of signing their tender or sitting out the season.