Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry has stayed busy the eight months or so working out contract extensions with key players such as tight end David Njoku, cornerback Denzel Ward, and offensive linemen Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller.
Running back Kareem Hunt would now like it to be his turn.
Hunt is entering the final year of his current contract this season and his agent, Dan Saffron, has started to engage with the Browns about an extension that would keep Hunt in town, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
While things are still in the early stages, Hunt said he prefers to remain with the Browns after this season, he told Cabot this week:
“I really don’t know what to think right now. I’m just trying to go out there and show them I’m healthy, show them I’m ready to ball out for them as long as they want me to, so I’d love to be here for a long time.
“Right now I’m just taking it day by day, man. I’m going to see what they want to do with me and I’m just taking it day by day. Hopefully, I can be here long term. We’ll see what God has in plan for me, that’s all I can say.”
There is no arguing Hunt’s value to the offense, a point that was driven home last season when he missed nine games with injuries. Hunt takes Cleveland’s offense to a different level given what he adds in the passing game, and the Browns were clearly not the same when he was out of the lineup.
Working against Hunt is that running back Nick Chubb is the clear No. 1 back and has already signed his extension. The Browns also selected running back Jerome Ford in this year’s NFL Draft, have second-year running back Demetric Felton, who has shown some similarities to Hunt in the passing game, and D’Ernest Johnson, who showed his value as an insurance policy last season, on the roster.
Even with an annual increase in the salary cap, Berry is going to need to balance out the various position groups on the roster to ensure that the Browns do not have to worry about cap space in the future.
That could mean that even though the Browns see the benefit of having Hunt on the roster, paying him in addition to Chubb past this season might not be feasible.
In three seasons with the Browns, Hunt has rushed for 1,406 yards and 13 touchdowns, while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He has added 97 receptions for 763 yards and six touchdowns.