Free agency has not gone great for Kareem Hunt, which could lead to a potential return to the Cleveland Browns.
Hunt is coming off a disappointing year with the Browns that was defined by trade drama and a drop in production and opportunity. While Hunt hoped to cash in during free agency with a potential starting opportunity, he’s found the market to not be so favorable. The former rushing leader has had limited interest and remains without a team.
While it still appears to be a long shot that Hunt returns to Cleveland, it’s a possibility that he gets one more shot in a Browns uniform.
“I don’t see Kareem hunt coming back here, but you can once again he’s in the ‘Never Say Never’ category,” Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot said during a recent Q&A video. “If he’s still out there and can be had at a bargain basement price and wants to come back — and Nick wants him back — anything can still happen in that regard. I wouldn’t completely rule it out. I never felt like it was front burner or something that was realistically going to happen. But the longer it goes, you just never know.”
Browns Still Plan to Lean on Nick Chubb
The Browns have been propelled by the running game under Kevin Stefanski, although there’s talk of that shifting in Year 2 of Deshaun Watson. However, Stefanski assured that Chubb — an All-Pro coming off a 1,500-yard season — will still be a key piece of the offense.
“Nick’s a major part of our offense, always will be,” Stefanski said at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix this week. “He was I thought very productive last season and had a good amount of attempts. You’re always trying to get the best version of Nick. So that’s always part of our plan, to make sure he’s fresh for a 17-game season plus. Nick will always be a big part of our offense.”
Who will backup Chubb is still the question, with Hunt a free agent and D’Ernest Johnson signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That leaves second-year running back Jerome Ford as the leading option, although Stefanski wasn’t ready to just give it to hand it over yet.
“That’s something we’ll have to work through and see who earns that role so to speak,” Stefanski said. “But that’s definitely an area we need to look at, and Jerome’s a candidate for that. We’ll see how it goes through the spring.”
Browns May Have to ‘Look’ at Chubb Situation Eventually
There were some rumblings this offseason that the Browns could look to move Chubb as a form of cap relief. Chubb signed a three-year extension for $36.6 million in 2021 and will count almost $15 million against the cap this season and $16.2 million next year.
Recent history points to expensive running backs not being part of a title-winning equation, although Chubb is as good as it gets at the position. Cabot shot down the recent trade rumors but thinks it might eventually be a discussion.
“There will come a time where they have to start to look at Nick and say, OK, how much does he have left in the tank versus how much he needs to get paid?” Cabot said. “And you know, these things don’t last forever, especially with running backs. But they do a good job of keeping some tread off the tires for Nick. That’s very helpful.”