Tepid Free Agent Market Could Lead RB Back to Browns

A tepid free agent market for running backs could lead to Kareem Hunt returning to the Cleveland Browns.

After four seasons with the Browns, Hunt became a free agent this offseason. He’s in search of a payday and a larger role, although that hasn’t manifested for him yet, with the market proving hard for running backs.

It’s proved especially tough for Hunt, who is coming off a lackluster year in Cleveland and hasn’t had any substantial bites in free agency. That lack of interest could lead him back to his hometown team, although the question becomes whether or not they’d welcome him back.

Zac Jackson of The Athletic believes the Browns will roll with Jerome Ford as the primary backup to Nick Chubb. However, he still sees it as a possibility that Hunt or D’Ernest Johnson return to the Browns.

“I think Jerome Ford is the No. 2 running back. Do I believe the Browns will draft one if they keep seven or eight picks? Yes, it’s a great draft class and we know nothing is guaranteed with Nick Chubb past this coming year,” Jackson said on his “Civilized Barking” podcast. “As I mentioned before, there’s a 25-30% chance that D’Ernest Johnson or Kareem Hunt eventually comes back to this team. Maybe more like 40-45% for Johnson.”

Hunt Appeared to Say Goodbye to Cleveland After Final Game

#Browns Kareem Hunt got emotional during the national anthem vs #Bengals, not knowing if it was his last game in Cleveland pic.twitter.com/7z8tqxb8EY

— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) November 7, 2022

Hunt landed in Cleveland in 2019, with the Browns taking a shot on the former rushing leader after he was cut by the Chiefs following video emerging of him in an altercation with a woman at a Cleveland hotel in February of 2018.

Hunt finished last season with 468 yards on 123 carries. He also added 35 catches but never wasn’t able to be a difference-maker for the offense. His per-carry average of 3.8 was the worst of his career and he saw his role dwindle behind Chubb. Hunt had more than five carries just once over the final five games.

After the season concluded, Hunt appeared to say goodbye to his hometown team.

“It meant a lot,” Hunt said of playing for the Browns. “It don’t get much better than playing for your hometown team and giving it your all each and every time you touch the field. But God’s got a plan, I’m looking forward to what he has in store for me, so we’ll see what it is.”

Hunt Enjoyed Partnership With Nick Chubb

While Hunt had a rough final year that was marred by lack of opportunity, trade drama and overall uncertainty, something he did enjoy was his partnership with Chubb.

“Nick is a great teammate, a great person, one of my best friends,” Hunt said. “I’m happy for him. He could’ve did that multiple years, I feel like. He’s always been a not selfish guy and always playing hard for his team no matter what the scoreboard says.”

The most likely result for Hunt in free agency is signing a one-year deal somewhere he can find some consistent work, with the possibility of cashing in next year.

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