One of the most excruciating injuries in this young 2023 NFL season occurred at Heinz Stadium during the second game of a Monday Night Football doubleheader. Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns had to be carted off.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski was quick to inform the public that Chubb will be out for the remainder of the season with a devastating knee injury. Right away, the thoughts of who would become his potential replacement began to surface.
Coach Kevin Stefanski confirms that Nick Chubb is done for the season with a significant knee injury. Awful. https://t.co/AiKhJ3kxsR
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 19, 2023
With a couple of names still available in free agency and some disgruntled running backs looking for new homes, there are a few potential replacements that the Browns could consider.
After Nick Chubb Injury, Pro Bowler Jonathan Taylor Among Names To Watch
Here’s an immediate thought — replace a Pro Bowl back with another who has wanted out of his team. That’s where Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts comes to mind first.
Taylor is yet to play a down for the 2023 Colts as he’s nursing his ankle injury. A recent viral video surfaced online that showed him on his path to getting cleared to play.
#Colts RB Jonathan Taylor just posted this video of himself running a route at the team’s indoor practice facility. He’s on the PUP list due to an ankle injury and is now three weeks out from a possible return in Week 5.
— James Boyd (@RomeovilleKid) September 15, 2023
But, he has been open about seeking a fresh start elsewhere. He demanded a trade from the Colts back on July 29. With Deshaun Watson being given a full season at quarterback plus backed by a solid defense, Taylor is the most intriguing name to monitor if the Browns orchestrate another blockbuster trade between now and Halloween (the date of the NFL trade deadline).
Other Potential Chubb Replacements
If Cleveland is unable to swoop up Taylor, there are other backs who have been elevated as strong possibilities. Among them are RBs who own a Super Bowl ring.
Per the rhetoric of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and second-year running back Kyren Williams after their 30-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Akers could be on his final L.A. days.
The Super Bowl 56 champ was a healthy scratch ahead of the 49ers contest, which confused Akers. Now, the second-round selection in 2020 has his name back among trade chatter.
The Browns, under offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, run a Rams-style attack already as the OC was with former Rams assistant Zac Taylor with the Cincinnati Bengals. Akers, 24, could give the Browns fresher and youthful legs.
Fournette becomes the first name that wouldn’t involve a trade.
The Super Bowl 55 champion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remains a street free agent. The 28-year-old would be considered a cheaper option and inside grinder. His name, though, could become attached to the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, too — both deal with their own RB depth issues.
On to someone already familiar with the Browns…
He was last seen in Cleveland from 2019 to 2022. And he hasn’t latched on anywhere since then. Hunt already knows the offense and blocking schemes. However, both he and the Browns would have to mend some tensions they had if he’s an option. Hunt once requested a trade from Cleveland a year ago before ultimately getting released.