Posted on: September 21, 2023, 01:03h.
Last updated on: September 21, 2023, 01:03h.
Kareem Hunt returns to the Cleveland Browns after their former running back inked a one-year deal that could be worth up to $4 million.
Hunt was the top free agent running back on the open market that had yet to sign with a new team. He took meetings with the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts in the preseason. The Colts were in a middle of a contract extension dispute with running back Jonathan Taylor, who requested a trade. The Saints had depth issues after two backup running backs sustained injuries in the preseason, and they awaited the return of Alvin Kamra from a suspension.
Despite interest from the Colts and Saints, Hunt remained a free agent when the season began.
Hunt met with the Browns this week after All-Pro running back Nick Chubb sustained a gruesome knee injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.
You don’t replace Nick Chubb,” said Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “You just don’t do that. Great players in the league, you look around, they go out. It’s always not one person that replaces a player of Nick’s caliber. So, everybody’s got to do a little bit more, a little bit more everywhere.”
Backup Jerome Ford stepped up for the Browns after Chubb went down in the first half. Ford contributed 131 yards from scrimmage and added one receiving touchdown against the Steelers.
Hunt Returns to the Dawg Pound
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Hunt, who was a superstar at Toledo, with a third-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He started 27 games for the Chiefs in 2017 and 2018.
Hunt spent the last four seasons with the Browns. He was a backup behind Chubb the last four seasons, and the two were considered the most fear rushing tandem in the league. He appeared in 49 games with the Browns and started nine times.
In four seasons with the Browns, Hunt rushed 442 times for 1,874 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. He also added 132 receptions for 973 yards and seven receiving touchdowns.
The Browns and Hunt were unable to work out a contract extension last season, which prompted a trade request. The Browns were unable to find a suitable trade partner for Hunt, and he finished out the 2022 season on their roster. Hunt became a free agent when the season ended.
When Chubb went down, the Browns sought out Hunt because of his familiarity with the offense.
I came ready to play and win,” said Hunt. “I’m just ready to go out there and showcase my talent. I know what I bring to the table. I’m willing to come in and do whatever it takes just to help win.”
According to Stefanski, Ford is the starting running back and Hunt will back him up in Week 3’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
The Browns lead the NFL with 202 rushing yards per game. Their running backs average 5.4 yards per carry.
Browns on the Futures Market
The Browns are currently 1-1, and have a win total of 9.5 over/under. The over 9.5 wins pays out -150 odds, and the under pays out +120 at DraftKings.
The Baltimore Ravens sit in first place in the AFC North with a 2-0 record. The Ravens are the current favorite to win the “Smashmouth Division” at +100 odds, or even money. The Browns are second on the futures board at +330 odds. The Cincinnati Bengals were the consensus preseason favorite to pull off a three-peat, but they lost the first two games of the season and slipped to +330 odds. The Steelers are 1-1, but a long shot to win the AFC North at +550 odds.
The addition of Hunt has not affected the futures market. The Browns are sixth on DraftKings’ NFL board at +1200 odds to win the AFC Championship.
The Browns were +3500 odds to win Super Bowl during the preseason. They jumped to +1800 after they defeated the Bengals in Week 1. After the Browns lost Chubb on Monday, their Super Bowl odds slipped to +2200.
The Browns are -145 odds to make the playoffs, and +110 odds to miss the postseason according to a prop bet by DraftKings.