Make no mistake about it, the Browns will trade RB Kareem Hunt. The only questions that remain at this point are: to which club and, for how much?
Cleveland is draft pick-poor going into next season’s NFL draft and is seeking ways to add picks. With D’Ernest Johnson a reliable option and waiting in the wings, plus the eventual return of rookie Jerome Ford coming off IR, the Browns are confident that moving Hunt is the best method to gain draft capital.
The Christian McCaffrey trade to San Francisco elevated every available running back’s trade values. So, if Hunt could have been gotten for a fifth or sixth-round pick one month ago and now Cleveland can get more in return, the front office seems all-in.
One of the key reasons for the trade is that Hunt is in the last year of the $13.25 million extension he inked in September 2020. Currently, Hunt’s cap hit is $6.250 million. But that isn’t the issue. The problem is that after this year, regardless of what his stats ultimately become, Hunt will be looking for a huge contract offer.
And quite frankly, GM Andrew Berry isn’t interested in paying two guys mega money in the running back group. Pony up big money to pay Nick Chubb? Sure. Dole out an almost equal deal to pay Hunt? Pass.
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, November 1 at 4 p.m. (Eastern)
Currently, this group’s numbers are as follows: Chubb’s cap hit this year is $5.213 million. In 2023, that number jumps to $14.850 million. Hunt’s cap hit is $6.250 million. Other cap hits for the current year: Johnson - $1.217 million, Demetric Felton - $865,285 and Ford - $785,357. John Kelly makes $10,000 a week on the practice squad but has seen action on the active roster.
Hunt is a very talented player. We all know this.
Click the below link to read about what one NFL GM has to say about Hunt:
RELATED: HUNT ‘BEST BACK ON THE MARKET’
Can Johnson take on Hunt’s role? Could Ford? When inserted as the starter when both Chubb and Hunt have been injured, Johnson has risen to the occasion more than once. Ford appears to be a draft-day steal and had an incredible pre-season.
And, yes, both are significantly cheaper. Johnson’s contract is up after this year as well, but if re-signed would be legions less than what Hunt would demand. And Ford is in his first year of a fifth-round rookie deal.
Then there is the matter of playing time.
In the opener against Carolina, Hunt played 80 snaps, or 56% of all offensive plays, He had 46 yards rushing plus 24 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns. In the next four games, he averaged 33 snaps per game, or about 44%.
Then against New England, he had a mere four carries for 12-yards with zero receptions. Against Baltimore, he had just five carries for four yards and one catch for four yards. He did score a touchdown. The snap counts for both contests were 30 and 28, respectively. The 28 snaps against the Ravens are a season-low for Hunt.
So whether he has been written out of the game plan or the front office doesn’t want Hunt to become injured which would eliminate his trade value, neither situation screams that the Browns intend to retain his services going forward.
And remember, Hunt did ask to be traded during training camp. So contract negotiations with a contentious young man are going to be difficult at best.
Currently, the Browns’ 2023 draft picks are as follows: Round 2, Round 3, Round 4 (two picks), Round 5 (two picks), Round 6, and Round 7.
Here at DBN, we have three NFL clubs that in all likelihood will become the new address for Hunt. In no particular order:
The Bills are 5-1-0 with an eye on that coveted first-week bye for the AFC. They are the fourth-highest-scoring team in the league and have a high-flying aerial attack. However, they are 22nd in rushing. This makes them predictable for any defensive coordinator to game plan against.
Starting RB Devin Singletary is ranked 44th in rushing with just 256 yards. Buffalo needs a quality back who can take the top off a defense. Plus, with the Bills proliferating passing game, Hunt is an exceptional pass receiver and would provide QB Josh Allen with yet another weapon.
Right now, Buffalo’s leading rusher is Allen. In past drafts, the franchise has attempted to find a good running back that will provide some balance to this offense but so far has failed. Hunt would also offer another seasoned veteran and yet is still a young man.
The big question is would Cleveland trade within the conference?
Los Angeles Rams
Of all the possibilities, the Rams appear to be the best option as a trade partner for the Browns. Hunt would instantly improve an ailing offense that has soured on their starter Cam Akers.
LA was outbid for McCaffrey so the interest in improving this position is real. Hunt’s insertion would provide the Rams with a much-needed power surge plus another playmaker.
Currently, Los Angeles is dead last in rushing. Hunt’s career average per carry is 4.6 yards. An upgrade to backup Darrell Henderson is necessary in order to keep up in the NFC West division. Hunt’s abilities would fit nicely into head coach Sean McVay’s system.
The Rams enter the part of their schedule that is ranked the eighth-hardest going down the stretch. At this point, they have to either make a splash for a player like Hunt or start planning for next year.
The Seahawks are another NFC West team that is sitting in a position where they could easily get pushed aside.
If this trade destination is a surprise, consider this: Their starting running back Rashaad Penny suffered a season-ending ankle injury and fibula fracture in last weekend’s game at New Orleans. This issue required surgery which has already taken place earlier in the week. Just like the New York Jets lost their starting rusher and traded with Jacksonville to get another back, Seattle must also make a move.
Their main guy is now backup Kenneth Walker, a rookie who was taken in the second round of last year’s NFL draft out of Michigan State. Now, Walker had a very good college career. He won the Walter Camp Award, Doak Walker Award, was named First Team All-American, First Team All-Big 10, and received the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year award. In his final year, he rushed for 1,636 yards and scored 18 touchdowns.
But to win in a tough division as Seattle resides in, you must have a capable running back. Hunt and Walker would complement each other. The Seahawks currently lead this division by one game and are the third-highest-scoring club in the league.
They rank eighth in the league in rushing and prefer to maintain that high standing which is a vital portion of their offense. The big question remains if they can see this happening with a rookie running back or bring in a proven player like Hunt.
What do you think the Browns will do with Hunt?
This poll is closed
Trade him to Buffalo
Trade him to Los Angeles
Trade him to Seattle
Trade him to another club not mentioned