The Cleveland Browns and General Manager John Dorsey made a statement on Monday as they signed beleaguered Ex-Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt to a one year $1 million contract. At the end of the one year deal, Hunt becomes a restricted free agent in 2020, and the Browns would have the option to match any qualifying offer or receive compensation in the form of a draft pick if Hunt were to leave.
From a public relations standpoint, the Browns will take some heat for signing Hunt for more money than he has made in his career up to this point. Make no mistake about it – Hunt was cut from the Chiefs because he was caught on camera knocking a woman to the ground and kicking her. These acts are horrendous, and Hunt should have to pay the price for them which I believe he will get once the league hands down a suspension. Everyone deserves a second chance and an opportunity to make a living and John Dorsey and Jimmy Haslam believe this too.
In 2017, his rookie year, Hunt led the NFL in rushing for the Chiefs, and he was continuing that production through 11 games in 2018. Adding this product to the young, explosive Browns offense will take them to the next level and have them competing with the top of the AFC sooner rather than later.
According to PFN’s Offensive Share Metric created by our own Brett Yarris, Nick Chubb, the Browns current starting RB, and Hunt both ranked high for what they are asked to do for their respective teams. Among the top 10 rushers in the league, Chubb ranked first according to the metric. According to the same metric, Hunt finished behind running backs Chubb, Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot, New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley, and Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson.
Based on this metric, Hunt is a huge pickup, but one number may tell the story of Hunt and the Browns 2019 season. In 2018, Chubb ran against an eight-man defensive front 34% of the time while Hunt, playing with all of those weapons in Kansas City, only faced an eight-man front 15% of the time. Chubb was ultimately better than Hunt in 2019 with regards to what they were asked to do within the scheme of their offense. Hunt is more versatile than Chubb so he could add another dimension to the RB position and the offense as a whole. Also, Hunt and Chubb can share the load during the regular season so that the Browns can have two healthy fresh RBs heading into the playoffs.
The most significant development for the Browns will be how quarterback Baker Mayfield plays in his second year after finishing his rookie year with a flourish. Mayfield, according to the OSM, ended relatively low compared to other QBs in the league. How Mayfield progresses under new head coach Freddie Kitchens will go a long way in determining how many eight-man boxes Chubb and Hunt see in 2019.
The addition of Hunt signals the beginning to a critical offseason for the Cleveland Browns as they try and dig out from under decades of losing.