The Cleveland Browns backfield has served as a test case for the theory that you can never have too much of a good thing.
Slotted behind quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2021 was an embarrassment of riches in the forms of running backs Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson. Now looking to revamp their offense for a playoff push, the Browns must consider if it makes sense to spend money on three talented rushers when two will suffice.
Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report believes Hunt is the piece the Browns can spare in return for draft consideration and cap flexibility moving into what will presumably be a busy offseason in Cleveland.
“The Cleveland Browns have a relatively healthy cap sheet for now, but new deals for David Njoku, Denzel Ward and a free-agent receiver will bite into their space significantly,” Wharton wrote. “They also have long-term questions to be resolved at quarterback. It makes sense for the Browns to maximize their few tradable pieces in order to open extra cap space and reload with rookies.”
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Hunt One of Two Browns Skill Players Who May be Out in Cleveland
According to Wharton, there are a couple of viable options for Cleveland to clear space on the offensive side of the ball.
Two players fit that mold this offseason: Jarvis Landry and Kareem Hunt. Landry will either need to take less money or be released thanks to his $16.3 million cap hit and diminishing production. Hunt is a different story, since he’s owed an affordable $6.25 million in the last year of his deal.
Cleveland would save that entire amount in a trade, and it’s clear this extension was structured to allow an out for the team. Hunt turns just 27 this summer and had more than 78 rushes just once in the past three years. He’s stuck behind Nick Chubb, though, and the emergence of D’Ernest Johnson should make Hunt expendable despite his talent.
Hunt is an excellent rusher and receiver, capable of attaining an elite stat line. … He would be worth a Day 3 pick for running back-needy teams wanting a potential star for the short term.
Hunt Would Likely Draw Trade Interest From Across NFL
Hunt’s age, skill set and reasonable salary would make him a valued target for several franchises whose backfields are a playmaker shy of complete.
The running back was selected to the Pro-Bowl during his rookie season with the Kansas City Chiefs. He has been banged up a significant amount of the time since joining the Browns in 2019, appearing in just 32 of a possible 49 regular season games during that stretch. Still, Hunt has amassed more than 5,150 yards from scrimmage and found the end zone a total of 44 times over the course of his five-year NFL career.
While Wharton suggested Hunt would likely garner just a Day 3 draft choice in any trade deal, it is also possible the Browns could do better than that by playing interested teams off of one another. Wharton noted that the group of interested parties would likely include the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers and Atlanta Falcons.