Since the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53, the Cleveland Browns made the biggest news of the NFL offseason.
Cleveland is taking a chance and rolling the dice on troubled running back Kareem Hunt.
The Cleveland native is now on the commissioners exempt list after being signed. In November of 2018, a video was released of Hunt kicking a woman and was immediately cut by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Some believe he should get a second chance in the league, others do not. But there is no denying the talent that Hunt possess. As a rookie in 2017, he led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,327 along with eight touchdowns. In the receiving game, he totaled 455 yards and caught three touchdown passes.
The Browns already have a talented duo of running backs with Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson. Hunt will help them, but may complicate their playing time.
It is a questionable move, but could help out first year head coach Freddie Kitchens and second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield.
CON: Controversial signing
The biggest thing everyone is talking about with this signing is that many people do not believe Hunt deserves a second chance in the NFL based on his history off the field.
Since the Ray Rice incident, the NFL has made harsher punishments regarding domestic violence. Greg Hardy was suspended 10 games after a two-month investigation into his arrest on assault and communicating threats. His suspension was then reduced to four games in 2015.
Ezekiel Elliot was suspended for the first six games in 2017 based on accusations of domestic violence even though Elliot was never criminally charged.
With actual footage of Hunt kicking a woman would likely mean a harsh suspension, probably something around the eight-game range. That could be a negative for some teams, knowing that Hunt would not be able to play for some time.
But even more than that is the baggage that comes on Hunt’s name. Would he be able to prove that he changed? Would this instance not happen again?
General manager John Dorsey must have seen enough promise and change in Hunt to risk signing him. Cleveland has, and most likely will continue to get some heat for this acquisition, but if the franchise has faith in him, why not make the move, especially on a cheap contract.
PRO: Makes the offense that much more dangerous
To the rest of the NFL when Kareem Hunt is eligible to play: watch out.
The skill position players that Cleveland now possess is scary. Talented young quarterback Baker Mayfield leads the offense and he has Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, David Njoku, and the previously mentioned running backs, Chubb and Johnson, among others.
With Hunt presumably in the mix sometime next season, Cleveland has a great group of running backs that can all bring different things to the table.
Mayfield will keep developing as a quarterback and his chemistry with head coach Freddie Kitchens will only get better.
The rest of the offense should fall in line, too. Landry got more involved once Kitchens took over the play calling responsibilities. Njoku has taken big steps forward in each of his first two seasons. Chubb was at nearly 1,000 yards rushing in his rookie season. Higgins became one of Mayfield’s favorite targets.
Hunt’s presence adds another dimension to an offense that is learning, growing, and quickly becoming successful together.
CON: Crowds the running back room
Yes, adding the former Toledo Rocket makes the offense better. But Cleveland already has two talented and versatile backs in Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson.
Chubb had a great rookie season, and really came onto the scene when the Browns traded Carlos Hyde. He was just four yards short of the 1,000-yard mark and found the end zone eight times. He added two receiving touchdowns as well.
Duke Johnson, who was given an extension before the season, had just 201 rushing yards on 20 carries. In the air, he racked up 429 yards and scored three times.
Hunt’s addition could complicate things, possibly pushing both Chubb and Johnson down the depth chart. Chubb figured to be the Browns feature back for the foreseeable future. With Hunt now in the fold, he could overtake Chubb as the Browns feature guy.
Johnson could possibly be moved to wide receiver full time, as he seems to be more comfortable catching passes.
How will Kitchens rotate between Hunt and Johnson? Is it going to be by committee or is there going to be a feature back with some of the other sprinkled in?