Browns RB Kareem Hunt Sounds Off Contract Situation

Kareem Hunt

Getty images Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns.

It’s been a turbulent offseason for Cleveland Browns running Kareem Hunt but he’s focused on Week 1 and putting his contract issues behind him.

Hunt was pressed multiple times on his offseason contract and brief trade demand but repeatedly said he’s moved past it and is just ready to play football.

“It has been cool. I am just excited. I get to go out there and play football. It is the game I love,” Hunt told reporters on September 9 on his mindset. “It is what it is. I am going to control what I can control, and that is going out there and playing football, which I enjoy doing. I have done it all of my life.”

Hunt is playing on the final year of his contract and made it clear to the Browns that he wanted an extension before the season started. He even went as far to stage a brief “hold-in,” which meant he was showing up to camp but not participating in the team portion of practice.

Hunt then requested a trade — the final card he had to play — but the Browns quickly rebuffed it, saying he would have a role in the offense and that they had no interest in moving him.

“Right now, I am focused on Sunday. I am ready to take care of business,” Hunt said when asked if there were any lingering frustrations over the situation.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said earlier in the week that the offseason drama is “water under the bridge.”

Browns RB Kareem Hunt Can Cash in With Big Year

Staying on the field with the Browns and taking care of business would be huge for Hunt, who has the potential to cash in next season as a free agent. He might even be able to land in a spot where he has a lead-back role, rather than a compliment to Nick Chubb.

Hunt has shown his upside as the No. 1 back, leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2017 with the Chiefs. He has more than 5,150 yards from scrimmage and 44 touchdowns to his name over a five-year NFL career.

Last year Hunt dealt with calf and ankle issues that limited him to eight games and he notched just 386 yards and five touchdowns, also adding 22 receptions for 174 yards. But the Browns still have faith in Hunt being a big part of the offense, with Chubb being one of his most vocal supporters.

“I feel like with Kareem, at the end of the day, he loves football, he’s passionate about it and he loves playing with us on this team, so at the end of the day, he’s going to put his pads on, go out there and play hard for us no matter what,” Chubb said Wednesday. “He’s a great teammate, so that’s the biggest thing with Kareem, he’s going to play hard for us no matter what.”

Browns Have D’Ernest Johnson, Jerome Ford in Mix as Well

The Browns have a wealth of talent to work with in their backfield beyond just Chubb and Hunt. D’Ernest Johnson made the most of his opportunities last season in a pair of starts and chipped in a solid 534 yards on 100 carries and three touchdowns.

Johnson also had a bit of a contract dispute this offseason, not wanting to sign his restricted free agent tender. He instead agreed to a slightly different 1-year deal worth the same amount but with more guaranteed money. Johnson has been involved in some trade rumors this offseason but the Browns seem set on keeping him on the roster as an insurance option in case Hunt or Chubb go down.

Cleveland also have a promising rookie in Jerome Ford, who was a highlight of the preseason. He notched 19 carries for 88 yards in the preseason and also caught 8-of-9 targets for 71 yards and could play a big role down the line if Hunt, Johnson or both move on next season.

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