The Browns‘ offseason has been anything but smooth sailing.
Any other summer, an injury-plagued receiving room would be the top story.
So would hype around a top-tier defensive front.
And so would news that one of the team’s most hyped players took forever to sign his rookie deal.
Unfortunately, the Browns are dealing with all three right now.
And there’s that little issue known as Deshaun Watson, who may or may not be suspended six games this season for sexual misconduct.
Friendly reminder that Cleveland traded three first-round picks and put themselves in cap limbo for the foreseeable future for Watson.
And the latest news coming out of the Browns’ camp comes from none other than Kareem Hunt.
Holding Out Hope
On Saturday, CBS’ Josina Anderson reported that Hunt sat out for a second-straight day of training in order to speed along a contract extension:
“Browns RB Kareem Hunt—currently seeking a contract extension—did not participate in team drills for the second consecutive practice on Saturday. Hunt told the team multiple times recently, his current plan is to participate in individuals drills only.
“Friday marked the first time since training camp started that Hunt didn’t participate in the team portion of practice, per league sources. Their belief is Hunt’s partial ‘hold-in’ isn’t health related. Hunt is subject to fines from the club. Hunt’s agent was at the Browns facility earlier this week per sources.
“I’ve been told several times Hunt periodically has said to members of the team informally—he wants to get paid or traded. However, one source emphasized they believe Hunt would like to stay in Cleveland, but just wants to be compensated for his worth.”
So not only is it that Hunt wants to get paid.
He wants to get paid regardless of whether it keeps him in Cleveland.
Fan reaction to Anderson’s report ran the spectrum, including a few would-be GMs pro-conning out a Hunt trade:
I love Hunt, especially with Chubb. But I wonder if the Browns are kicking around a trade and making D'Ernest Johnson the backup.
— brownsfansince79 (@brownsfansnce79) August 6, 2022
Sheesh idk. I usually side with players, but he’s lucky he’s even still in the league after the incident in 2018. Who is really going to guarantee him a huge, multi year deal?
— DJ (@DjRodgers1231) August 6, 2022
Hunt is an excellent player. Great to have on the team. They’re not giving him an extension though.
— SportsFan (@codesavvy) August 6, 2022
It’s almost like the Browns don’t have the cap space in the next few years to sign these guys 💀
— Jeff (@JParker8080) August 6, 2022
— Dr. Frank Ball (@jaredball1234) August 6, 2022
That backfield is too crowded already with Chubb Hunt and D’Ernest. A trade of one of those 3 makes too much sense for Cleveland.
Any extra draft capital they can get means a lot for a team that gave up so much for Watson.
— YardsAfterContract (@after_yards) August 6, 2022
Kareem Hunt's 'holdin' helps the Browns out… Jerome Ford can get a lot of those reps… his ability as a pass receiver is similar.
If Hunt really wants a trade, the Browns may tell his agents to go find him one. They have no incentive to work with him currently.
— Pete Smith (@_PeteSmith_) August 6, 2022
Need some of y’all Browns fans to keep that same energy for Kareem Hunt that you had when Baker asked for a trade. Don’t let your hypocrisy show🥴🥴
— Missy (@Melissa_OU6) August 6, 2022
— Sir Yacht🛥 (@SirYacht_) August 6, 2022
Won’t be shocked if Kareem Hunt is the starting RB in Atlanta before training camp is over.
— Christian Williams (@CWilliamsNFL) August 6, 2022
In Hunt and starter Nick Chubb, the Browns have arguably the best running back rotation in the league.
“[A]ll three of the Browns’ top backs have done serious damage when given RB1 duties. Yes, Cleveland’s line has something to do with this, but Chubb and Hunt are undeniable talents on their own. The former has averaged over 5 yards per carry in all four NFL seasons as a smooth, traditional ball-carrier. Hunt, meanwhile, is even shiftier with good hands, making him the 1B in Kevin Stefanski’s ground attack.”
But Johnson’s presence might be the very reason why the Browns are willing to kick the tires on a potential trade.
Last season, Hunt struggled with injuries, opening up the door for Johnson to assume some backup responsibilities.
In 2021, Johnson scored three touchdowns on 534 yards on the ground.
Johnson added another 137 yards through the air, as well.
Given how cash-strapped the Browns will be over the next few seasons, a deal for more money might not be feasible for Hunt.
But with Johnson, the Browns can still trade away Hunt, recoup lost draft capital, and potentially weather the storm.