Hunt made it clear through his actions that he would like to get paid via a new deal or land in a spot where he can earn one with a larger role. The disgruntled back is entering the final year of a two-year, $12 million extension he inked in 2020.
Hunt requested a trade but was shot down by the Browns, who have plans for the former rushing leader as they look to ride the ground game through Deshaun Watson’s suspension.
Despite the Browns’ initial desire to keep Hunt on the roster to maintain their 1-2 punch in the backfield, Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay believes Hunt should firmly be on the trade block heading into the season, allowing the team to get something in return for the former rushing leader while capitalizing on their stellar depth at the position. Here’s what B/R had to say about the situation:
If the Browns aren’t planning to retain Hunt beyond this season, the team might be wise to deal the veteran. The move would allow them to get something for Hunt rather than lose him for nothing in free agency.
Cleveland’s backfield has the personnel to overcome the loss of Hunt. … With these players in place, Cleveland’s best move could be to reverse course and grant Hunt’s wish by placing him on the block.
Hunt Made It Clear in Offseason He Wanted to Get ‘Paid’
When healthy, Hunt is a difference-maker for the Browns. However, he has dealt with some injury issues in Cleveland, particularly last year when he played in just eight games due to ankle and calf injuries. He also had a stint on the COVID list that saw him miss time.
That recent injury history combined with the Browns depth at the position with Nick Chubb, D’Ernest Johnson and Jerome Ford hasn’t put him in a position of power in negotiations. He did express a desire to stay with the Browns this offseason, which is easier said than done.
“I hope I get paid,” Hunt said. “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.”
One person he has on his side is his backfield buddy Chubb, who would like to see Hunt hang around Cleveland for the long-haul.
“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 on August 8. “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.”
Browns RB Coach Offers Critcism of Hunt’s Style
Browns running back coach Stump Mitchell is a no-nonsense guy and gave a very honest assessment of Hunt’s play.
“I don’t think any of the running back coaches Kareem has had, including me being No. 1, has gotten the most out of Kareem,” Mitchell told reporters on August 15. “He’s a physical, talented guy but we got to get him to play within the — well, I have to get him to play within our system.”
Mitchell noted Hunt’s performance as a rookie with the Chiefs but made the case that he could have racked up even more yardage if he played with patience.
“He was physical (in Kansas City), but he didn’t give his offensive linemen an opportunity sometimes to make the blocks because he cut too fast,” Mitchell said. “But that’s because of his hunger. I’ve gotta teach him to be a little more patient.”
Patience will be key for Hunt both on and off the field as he looks to navigate the latest hurdle in his career.