The Cleveland Browns swiftly rejected Kareem Hunt’s trade request and the running back responded by ending his brief “hold-in” during Sunday’s practice.
Hunt had been holding himself out of team drills during training camp in an effort to get “paid or traded” per Josina Anderson of CBS Sports. Hunt asked the Browns for a trade but was rejected, per Cleveland.com.
In the wake of his trade hopes being shut down, Hunt was spotted on the practice field Sunday, participating in team drills, effectively ending his “hold-in.” Per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com:
“Hunt, who stood off to the side for early part of practice, participated in individual drills and then ran out onto the field for first period of 11-on-11s, replacing Nick Chubb for the second rep. On the fourth snap, he caught a screen pass from Deshaun Watson and rumbled up the right side.”
Hunt was also seen after practice running extra sprints after practice with quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Jacoby Brissett.
So, for the time being, Hunt is back and ready to work as the Browns prepare for their season-opener against the Panthers on September 11.
The Browns have played hardball with trade requests previously under general manager Andrew Berry. They hung onto tight end David Njoku when he wanted out — which ended up being the best outcome for both sides — and weren’t planning on trading quarterback Baker Mayfield after his trade request this offseason prior to landing Deshaun Watson.
Stefanski: ‘If Our Players Are Healthy, They Practice
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was asked about the situation with Hunt prior to Sunday’s practice but didn’t reveal too much, giving an on-brand response.
“I think you know me well enough that I am not going to get into anything that has to do with our players, conversations that I have with our players and those type of things,” Stefanski told reporters on August 7.
He added: “If our players are healthy, they practice.” The Browns were able to fine Hunt for sitting out the portions of practice.
It’s been a fairly drama-filled camp for the Browns, with Hunt’s situation just being the latest for the team. Deshaun Watson’s suspension has also loomed large, with the QB being handed a six-game ban, which the NFL has now appealed. Stefanski is doing his best to keep his team locked in.
“I would tell you, respectfully, we really do focus on what we can control. I understand that there are things that happen that certainly get attention, and that is OK,” Stefanski told reporters. “For us, we really are focused on trying to get better. We are not where we need to be, and we have a lot of work to do. That is what we are focusing on.”
Kareem Hunt Will Likely Have to be Patient for Payday
It appears that Hunt will have to wait to cash in on a contract extension, which will likely be revisited after the season if the Browns see him churn out a healthy and productive year. Hunt is coming off a season in which he missed nine games due to ankle and calf injuries, as well as a stint on the COVID-19 list. Hunt said this offseason that he’s fully healed from the rough campaign.
“I’m good, I’m 100%. I have some time to heal this offseason and get back to it,” Hunt said at his youth football camp, via Ashley Bastock of Cleveland.com. “So body is feeling good, nothing’s bothering me.”
While talented, Hunt doesn’t have a ton of leverage in the situation. The former rushing leader was limited to 78 carries for 386 yards last season. He also sits behind Nick Chubb on the depth chart. Chubb has cracked the 1,000-yard mark each of the last three seasons.
The Browns also have a more-than-capable runner behind Hunt in D’Ernest Johnson, who is coming off a breakout year in which he rushed for 534 yards on 100 carries with a trio of touchdowns. Rookie Jerome Ford is another weapon the Browns have at their disposal. Ford was selected in the fifth round out of Cincinnati. He finished with 1,242 yards rushing, 19 rushing touchdowns and 20 total touchdowns during his final season with the Bearcats.
“Excited about that room. A ton of talent. We have veterans. We have young guys,” Stefanski said. “They are working really hard, and they are going to continue to do that.”
The Hunt drama appears to be on hold for now but we’ll see if he suits up for the Browns’ first preseason game on Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.