Nick Chubb still firmly has Cleveland Browns teammate Kareem Hunt’s back, despite Hunt’s recent trade request.
Chubb had been quiet on the situation involving his backfield buddy but made it clear that he wants Hunt to continue to be his running mate in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.
“He’s my best friend, on and off the field. He’s a great person to be around,” Chubb said during an appearance on NFL Network. “I couldn’t imagine playing without him. I want him to be here, whatever they got to do to keep him here. I want to play with Kareem.”
It’s a strong statement from the usually reserved Chubb, who rarely speaks in general. But it’s a clear message to the Browns front office that he’d like the team to get a deal done with Hunt, who ended his brief hold-in on August 7 following a rejected trade request.
Chubb would love for Hunt to stay in Cleveland, but it comes down to the economics of getting a deal done. The Browns have some hefty contracts on the books for the coming years due to recent extensions for Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Deshaun Watson and Chubb, whose cap number this season is $5.2 million. That goes up to $14.9 million next season. If Hunt wants close to RB1 numbers to remain in Cleveland, a relationship beyond this season might not make a ton of sense for either side.
Hunt Has Expressed Desire to Stay in Cleveland
Hunt is in the final year of a two-year extension he signed with the team in 2020. It will pay him $6.25 million if he plays all 17 games. He’s expressed a want to stay with the Browns but also wants to get paid, which might not be in the cards for the former rushing leader unless he churns out a highly-productive year as the No. 2 option behind Chubb.
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.
Hunt spoke publicly about his contract situation this offseason and expressed a desire to stay with his hometown Browns.
“I hope I get paid,” Hunt told Cleveland.com in June. “So, you know, whatever they decide, they know I’m going to come out there and give it my all and I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win. … We’re trying to get there for sure. So I’ll see in the next couple of weeks.
“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 [stay] here for a long time.”
Hunt also has said he’s fully healthy heading into the season — although the key will be staying on the field for all 17 games and, hopefully, the postseason.
“I’m good, I’m 100%. I have [had] some time to heal this offseason and get back to it,” Hunt said. “So body is feeling good. Nothing’s bothering me.”
Insider: Would Be Surprised If Someone Traded for Hunt
The Browns swiftly rejected Hunt’s trade demand, considering he has very little leverage in the situation. He’s coming off the injury-riddled year and the position is loaded with talent.
Along with Chubb and Hunt, the Browns have D’Ernest Johnson and rookie Jerome Ford, who has had a strong camp. All of those factors would play a role in the return the Browns would get for Hunt.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport said he’d be “surprised” if a team came to the table to get a deal done for Hunt.
“I would say first of all, I’d be surprised if someone traded for Kareem Hunt. It’s not just because of all the stuff in his background, which is why he was cut by the Chiefs and went to the Browns,” Rapoport said during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on August 8. “Not everybody would want to take that on. It’s also, not a lot of people pay running backs, it’s even worse value to trade for a running back and then pay him. My guess is nothing happens.”
Rapoport also pointed to Hunt being a great insurance policy for the Browns in case anything happens to Chubb. The Browns will rely heavily on the ground game with Deshaun Watson out, and Hunt is a more-than-capable fill-in if Chubb is sidelined.
“Nick Chubb is awesome, but running backs do get hurt,” Rapoport said. “If I’m the Browns, I’m not sure there’s a move that would make much sense.”
The Browns open the preseason on Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.