The Cleveland Browns gave running back Kareem Hunt a chance at redemption in 2019.
Now Hunt hopes that he showed the team enough to remain in their plans.
That is according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who reported on Tuesday that despite Hunt’s recent run-in with police, the third-year running back is confident he still has a place with the Browns:
News and notes from around league on NFL Live...Joe Flacco undergoes MRI, Broncos confident he can play next year (in DEN or elsewhere); Kareem Hunt confident he’s in Browns’ plans for 2020; CU’s pursuit of Eric Bieniemy; Bucs’ attempt to retain Shaq Barrett could lead to tag pic.twitter.com/d18dHuTXuV— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 18, 2020
According to Fowler:
“Despite the marijuana incident he had with police and the past histoyr, I’m told Kareem Hunt expects to be in the Browns plans next year. He is a restricted free agent, so he is expecting one of two options: either getting a tender, he hopes it is pretty high, maybe a first-round pick restricted tender, or a longterm deal.
“He would like to stay in Cleveland. (Head coach) Kevin Stefanski loves to run the ball and he can do it with both (Hunt) and Nick Chubb.”
Hunt missed the first eight games of the 2019 season while serving an NFL-mandated suspension that ended his tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs. While he was not the same explosive player as during his first two seasons in Kansas City, Hunt still finished last season averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 7.7 yards per reception, while scoring three touchdowns.
He is now a restricted free agent, and general manager Andrew Berry has to decide if he wants to work out a longterm contract with Hunt or offer him one of three tender offers (salary estimates via Over the Cap):
- First-round tender: One-year contract worth approximately $4.7 million. If Hunt receives and offer sheet from another team and the Browns do not match it, they would receive a first-round draft pick from Hunt’s new team.
- Second-round tender: One-year contract worth approximately $3.2 million. The Browns would receive a second-round draft pick if Hunt were to sign with another team.
- Original-round tender: One-year contract worth approximately $2.1 million. In this scenario, the Browns would receive a third-round pick if Hunt were to sign with a new team as that was the round he was originally selected.
Of the options, the first-round tender might be the Browns best play as there might not be another team willing to risk giving up a first-round selection given Hunt’s off-field issues. A second-round tender might also work, although the risk of Hunt leaving would increase some.
As Fowler pointed out, Stefanski does like to run the ball. He comes to Cleveland fresh off a season where as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings he oversaw a running attack that finished with 133.3 yards per game, and the Vikings were just one of three teams to attempt more runs than passes.
A few days after accepting the head coaching position, Stefanski talked about how having two talented running backs is a good problem, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“If we’ve got two good ones, we’ll figure it out. That’s no problem for us. That’s a good problem if it’s a problem at all. It’s our job to make sure we’ve got all these good players, let’s use them. Let’s use them in the right way.”
Time will tell if Stefanski’s “good problem” becomes a reality for the Browns.