The Cleveland Browns have a concerning situation developing in their backfield, with running back Kareem Hunt wanting to get “paid or traded” amid a contract dispute with the team.
Hunt has been dubbed a “partial hold-in” by Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, with the former rushing leader not participating in team drills as he eyes a payday.
“Browns RB Kareem Hunt — currently seeking a contract extension — did not participate in team drills for the second consecutive practice on Saturday,” Anderson tweeted on August 6. “I’ve been told several times Hunt periodically has said to members of the team informally — he wants to get paid or traded.”
Anderson mentioned that Hunt’s agent was at the team facilities this week, which is a pretty good sign that some negotiating is going on behind the scenes. Hunt signed a two-year extension with the Browns in 2020 worth $13.25 million. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the year.
“Hunt told the team multiple times recently, his current plan is to participate in individuals drills only,” Anderson tweeted. “Friday marked the first time since training camp started that Hunt didn’t participate in the team portion of practice, per league sources. Their belief is Hunt’s partial ‘hold-in’ isn’t health related. Hunt is subject to fines from the club.”
Kareem Hunt Could be Looking for Larger Role
Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2017 with the Chiefs and has more than 5,150 yards from scrimmage and 44 touchdowns to his name over a five-year NFL career. However, he’s dealt with injuries during his time with the Browns, most notably last season with calf and ankle issues, which limited him to eight games. He notched 386 yards and five touchdowns, adding 22 receptions for 174 yards.
However, as long as he’s in Cleveland, Hunt will sit behind Chubb on the depth chart. Chubb has emerged as one of the best backs in the NFL, eclipsing more than 1,000 yards the last three seasons with an average better than 5 yards per carry. He signed a three-year, $36 million extension last season, keeping him in Cleveland through the 2024 season.
While the duo has spoken glowingly of their partnership, Hunt could be eager for a larger role where the ball would be in his hands more. A trade could get him that in a contract year, with the 27-year-old able to cash in next offseason if he produces.
Hunt Has Voiced Desire to Stay With Browns
While things appear contentious between Hunt and the Browns, he has been vocal about his desire to stay in Cleveland previously, which was also noted by Anderson.
“I really don’t know what to think right now,” he told Cleveland.com on June 17 when asked about his contract situation. “I’m just trying to go out there and show them I’m healthy, show them I’m ready to ball out for them as long as they want me to, so I’d love to here for a long time.”
The question is how much money the Browns are willing to spend at the running back position with Chubb already on a hefty — albeit well-deserved — deal. The team has also handed out large extensions to cornerback Denzel Ward, defensive end Myles Garrett and quarterback Deshaun Watson, among others, which will have a significant impact on their cap flexibility going forward.
The Browns also have to consider Hunt’s recent injuries and the fact that they have D’Ernest Johnson at their disposal. With Hunt and Chubb banged up, Johnson started a pair of games and finished the season with 534 yards on 100 carries and three touchdowns. The team also drafted Jerome Ford in the fifth-round and could groom him to take over the backup role next season if Hunt and Johnson end up elsewhere.