The Browns and Philadelphia Eagles held joint practices this past week in Berea right before their second preseason game on Sunday. The Eagles were victorious 21-20 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Shortly after these practice sessions were concluded, there was a buzz stirring around that Philadelphia had an interest in trading for Browns RB Kareem Hunt. That rumor is not only still circulating, but is getting louder.
It is very true that the Browns have a stable of extremely talented running backs. Nick Chubb is one of the league’s best. Hunt is a former NFL rushing champion. D’Ernest Johnson could start for a lot of clubs. Rookie Jerome Ford has shown flashes of his talent in his two preseason games. And John Kelly plays all out and has impressed.
Circling back to Hunt, the Eagles have a huge problem with their offense: the running back position.
Their starter, Miles Sanders, is dealing with a persistent hamstring problem and has missed plenty of practice time.
Nick Sirianni says the Eagles are being cautious with Sanders. Had some leg tightness/soreness.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 19, 2022
This in itself is concerning if you are an Eagles fan. Sanders is still experiencing leg tightness and soreness as most hammy situations usually do. Last season he was a roller coaster as far as production, started just 12 games and had only 754 rushing yards with zero touchdowns.
His backup, Kenneth Gainwell, has not wowed anyone in training camp nor in any of the preseason games. He had 11 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland while neither back registered any stats in the win over the New York Jets in their first preseason game.
The next two running backs are Boston Scott and Jason Huntley. Scott has been dealing with concussion issues whereas Huntley has limited experience.
The Eagles liked what they saw with Cleveland’s backfield this past week. It is no secret that Hunt has asked to have his contract extended with a huge raise or be traded. GM Andrew Berry told the media that neither would happen, and Hunt has shown up for practices instead of holding out.
But the thought was planted: Hunt might do better somewhere else.
And perhaps the Browns could cash in since they have a logjam in the running back room. After all, Hunt is in the final year of his contract.
Neither Hunt nor Chubb have played in either of the Browns preseason games.
Hunt was even seen talking with Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni after one practice. Several media outlets including Sports Illustrated have blown this situation way up.
Looks like Browns RB Kareem Hunt, seen here talking with Nick Sirianni, isn’t practicing today.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 19, 2022
Some have mentioned Hunt as a possible trade target for the #Eagles. He wants a new contract. pic.twitter.com/Iig4tYBti1
The Eagles have got to get some running back help at some point.
The phillyvoice.com had this to say about a possible trade for Hunt:
“After observing a few weeks of Eagles training camp, it is rather clear that the shaky spot is at running back, and the Browns’ Kareem Hunt — who wants to be traded — would be a perfect fit for this offense. With the unhappy Hunt scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, the Browns may as well trade him in what is likely going to be a lost season anyway with Deshaun Watson out for at least 11 games.”
Another media outlet, heavy.com, posted this:
“The Eagles should be equally motivated to make a move for Hunt, considering their running back depth chart reads below average behind Miles Sanders, and he is currently listed as questionable due to injury concerns. Sanders has missed five straight practices with a hamstring injury. I believe the Eagles are actually in on Kareem Hunt. This is a win-now team with Jalen Hurts on his rookie contract with one of, if not the best, offensive line units in the NFL. Hunt would be a stud in PHI.”
And you would have to assume that Hunt would be open to the move. For one, he is an NFL starting-caliber running back playing second fiddle to Chubb, For another, a trade would in all likelihood come with the new, elevated contract extension that Hunt has already asked for and was denied.
What should the Browns expect from the Eagles in such a trade? According to Pro Football Focus his trade value is just a fifth round draft pick. Plus, the Browns would clear $6.5 million off their salary cap.
Why this trade will not happen
The biggest reason that this will not transpire is because the coaching staff values Hunt as a key component of this offense. He has versatility in that he is a runner, a good receiver, can line up in the slot, is a great blocker and comes on and goes off without any mouth about his playing time.
Plus, why would the Browns ship off a valuable weapon while their starting quarterback Deshaun Watson is MIA for 11 games? New starting QB Jacoby Brissett is going to need all the weapons he can muster.
But there is one more thing to consider.
If Hunt plays out this year and Cleveland allows him to test the free agent waters to which he is signed by another club, the Browns would then receive a compensatory draft pick. It is probable that this pick would be greater than the fifth round selection they would have gotten from the Eagles.
This fact alone is why Hunt will remain in Cleveland.