Former Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt committed one of the top off-the-field sins by being caught on camera physically assaulting a young woman in an apartment complex. Once the tape ended up on social media, which always makes the situation worse, Hunt was fired by the Chiefs and was dumped into the Hazardous Free Agent Bin where any team could pick him up.
Behind the scenes there were a lot of NFL teams looking into the situation to determine Hunt’s toxicity levels, and once the season ended it was revealed that there was serious interest in signing him. The first to grab him off of the heap was the Cleveland Browns, and that is not an insignificant thing. The Browns are clearly a team on the rise, leaving the question of whether or not Hunt will personally and professionally prosper with the Browns.
Here are 5 reasons why he will come out on top when all is said and done.
1. Hunt is undoubtedly a very talented running back.
He has proven himself time and time again with the Chiefs, so the Browns are getting a proven commodity. Looking back, it can be asked whether the Chiefs panicked in releasing him. True, there would have been media blowback but he has wisely remained under the radar, and apparently his actions were not deemed to be grievous enough to warrant constant media scrutiny. His case is still being reviewed by the NFL, so it is likely he would have done his penance and been playoff ready. Maybe he would have helped against New England.
2. He added another year to his shelf life.
Running backs these days wear out at about 26 or 27, though there are a few exceptions, and Hunt was carrying a significant load for the Chiefs. Being released by the Chiefs gave him time to rest his young body. Provided he remains home-injury free during the summer, he will have had plenty of time to refresh and get back to work when the new season starts.
3. There is plenty of competition to push him.
By signing with the Browns it’s not like Cleveland was desperate for a running back. Hunt and the Browns know what they are doing. Cleveland had considerably success during the regular season starting Nick Chubb at running back, who racked up 996 yards. They also signed Duke Johnson to a 3 year extension, someone who was a valuable contributor during the season. Making the roster is no guarantee, and adding his presence will make everyone at the position better.
4. The Cleveland fans appear to accept him.
This is crucial since the last thing any team management wants is a high maintenance player. People who ask about Colin Kaepernick do not understand it is not about race or politics, or even skill. Hunt admitted he was wrong and the team can now focus on football. With Kaepernick, everywhere he goes there will be non-football media attention paid to him. Hunt does not bring that type of baggage with him. If the fans are willing to forgive and move on, then Hunt will hear mostly cheers, not jeers, from his new home stadium.
5. He signed a one year deal.
This is perhaps the most crucial of the reasons Hunt will prosper. If he has learned his lesson, and that appears to be the case, this is a one shot deal to prove he is redeemable as an NFL player. If he returns to his old Chief form, his value on the field will be obvious. But if he fails either personally or professionally, his career is very likely one and done. After crossing these 2019-2020 season hurdles, he can expect a long term contract with the Browns despite being a free agent.
The NFL is continuing its investigation, so it is not clear yet if Hunt will be able to play in 1 game, 10 games (a key contract and free agent number), or all 19 games. But you should think of it as a jury out deciding the fate of the accused. This isn’t a situation where the jury came back in an hour, so there is definitely some evaluation of potential long term damage to the NFL going on. But the outlook is positive and will get better every day the league contemplates Hunt’s immediate future.