Kareem Hunt Free Agent Fits: Bengals, Ravens, Broncos

2022 was not the contract year Kareem Hunt expected to have. When Cleveland showed no interest in engaging with him on extension talks, Hunt requested a trade and held himself out of practice for a bit in training camp. However, the team didn’t yield, and Hunt came back to soldier out the season. 

Kareem Hunt

It ended up being the worst season of his career. He played all 17 games, so if he was hurt it wasn’t enough to sideline him. But Hunt didn’t look as explosive as he used to. He was never fast but he was always a violent runner with an ability to break tackles and generate more yards after contact. In 2022, he looked more like a plodder. He’s only 27, but running back is a position where the cliff can come early and fast. 

That could explain why he’s still unsigned, as Hunt was one of the bigger names even in a deep free-agent class for running backs. At this point, he’ll probably have to wait until after the draft to find work, as most teams will prefer to plug a cheap rookie running back in rather than pay a declining veteran if they can avoid it.

Hunt, 27, is a former third-round pick of the Chiefs back in 2017. He was in the second year of his four-year, $3.263-million contract and set to make base salaries of $555,000 and $645,000 over the next two years of the agreement when the Chiefs waived him in December following video of him kicking a woman.

The Browns elected to sign Hunt to a one-year contract worth over $1 million, not factoring in a suspension. Hunt forfeited $303,529 of his $645,000 base salary with his eight-game suspension, with a chance to earn $200,000 in per-game roster bonuses upon return.

Hunt re-signed with Cleveland as a restricted free agent heading into 2020. He was set to make $3.27 million under the second-round tender before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2021 when he signed a two-year, $13.5 million extension before the start of the season.

Hunt is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. 

In 2022, Hunt appeared in all 17 games for the Browns and rushed for 468 yards on 123 carries (3.8 YPC) to go along with 35 receptions for 210 yards receiving and four total touchdowns.

We have him included in our Top 100 Available 2023 NFL Free Agents list.

Cincinnati Bengals

Assuming Hunt isn’t completely washed, his all-purpose skill set would fit in nicely with a team like the Bengals, which needs a third-down back to replace Samaje Perine. For Hunt, he could stay in his home state of Ohio and play for a contending team, which would be two important boxes for him to tick.

Denver Broncos

If the Bengals aren’t an option, the Broncos are a team to keep in mind. They were rumored to have interest in Hunt at one point, although they’ve since signed Perine.

New HC Sean Payton loves using multiple running backs, and the team will need depth as Broncos RB Javonte Williams returns from a severe, multi-ligament knee injury. If they don’t bring back Latavius Murray, Hunt could be an option for Denver. 

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens would also be an interesting team to consider. They’re familiar with his game as AFC North rivals, and while they already have J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, nearly any place Hunt would sign with this offseason has a crowded depth chart at this point.

There’s a lot of talent league-wide at running back. Baltimore could add Hunt as injury insurance for both Edwards and Dobbins, who didn’t bounce back from major knee injuries as well as the team might have hoped. 

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