The Cleveland Browns and running back Kareem Hunt are likely entering the last year of a four-year marriage and with arguably the best backfield in the NFL, the franchise should at least consider what the rusher might fetch on the trade market.
Hunt has already expressed his unhappiness with being forced to play his sixth NFL season on the final year of a two-year deal worth just $6.25 million, especially following an injury-plagued campaign in 2021 that saw the running back sidelined for nine regular season games.
The Browns, however, have held firm that they will not renegotiate Hunt’s contract until after the year is done. The team also told Hunt they have no plans to trade him, though that position could be posturing or chalked up to the lack of an appropriate offer to this point.
Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus in mid-August slotted the running back’s trade value at a fifth-round pick. With Pro Bowler Nick Chubb leading the backfield and serviceable backups D’Ernest Johnson and Jerome Ford on the roster, any offer better than a fifth-round selection is one the Browns ought to consider as Hunt can walk for nothing next summer.
One team potentially interested in Hunt and with the draft capital to get a deal done is the Atlanta Falcons.
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Hunt Would Bring Back Value From Falcons Team in Need of RB1
Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report on Saturday, September 3, suggested a trade proposal that would flip Hunt to Atlanta for a fourth-round pick and a seventh-round swap in 2023.
The Cleveland Browns own the league’s best backfield … [and] could easily move forward with one or two fewer ball-carriers.
Hunt can be a featured back in another offense, while the Browns have ample depth in their backfield to trade him for a quality return.
The Atlanta Falcons current lack a lead back on their roster. Cordarrelle Patterson, who serves in the role by default, finished tied for 27th league-wide last season with only 153 carries, while Atlanta ranked 31st in rushing offense.
Hunt could be the Falcons’ RB1 for two or three years while the front office builds up the rest of the roster.
Browns Offense Will Rely Heavily on Run Game For Much of Season
The argument against moving Hunt, despite the fact that he can walk for nothing at the end of the year, is that the Browns offense is likely to need all the help it can get out of the run game.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson is suspended for the first 11 games of the season, leaving the huddle in the hands of backup Jacoby Brissett. The wide receiver group is also thin, with rookie David Bell projected to start and depth at the position a serious question.
Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017, and he and Chubb have been a terrifying duo when healthy across their last three years as teammates. As such, Cleveland may be seeking more than fourth-round compensation for Hunt, who remains capable of starting on most teams in the league.