Kareem Hunt doesn't appear to be sweating his current job status. Despite still being unsigned, the former Cleveland Browns running back and NFL rushing champion remains confident that he will be in uniform at some point during the 2023 season.
In fact, it appears that Hunt's availability is by choice. Instead of enduring the rigors of training camp, Hunt is training and preparing for the upcoming season on his schedule.
"I'm just being patient," Hunt told The News Herald in late June during his youth football camp. "I've had some things come up. But right now, I'm enjoying my time with my family. I'm training and working hard and just staying ready.
"I'm not frustrated at all. It's going to work itself out. Right now I'm just here to enjoy time with my family and show these kids a good time at this football camp. I know it's all going to work out at the end of the day."
Hunt deciding to delay signing somewhere until the schedule is closer to the start of the regular season is certainly a believable reason to explain his current situation. There are also other factors that may be contributing to him being unsigned.
Four teams have reportedly reached out to the veteran running back and if the Miami Dolphins were one of the teams, one has to wonder if they will reach out again now that Jeff Wilson was placed on IR, leaving the running back room with just Raheem Mostert, Devon Achane and Salvon Ahmed.
It was reported back in April that the Browns believed that Jerome Ford. The Browns may have come to that conclusion after watching Hunt average a career-low 3.8 yards-per-carry last season, a 1.1 yards-per-carry drop from 2022. Hunt was available for each of the Browns' games last season after ankle and calf injuries limited him to just eight games in 2021.in terms of speed and that is why they decided to move on from Hunt and replacing him with
Previous issues off of the football field may also be limiting Hunt's choices as far as teams that are possibly interested in signing him. The NFL suspended him for eight games in 2019 after he was videotaped pushing and kicking a woman. At the time, the league said that the suspension came in connection with a previous physical altercation at his residence in Cleveland and at an Ohio resort.
In January of 2020, Hunt was cited for speeding while possessing marijuana and a bottle of vodka. Dashboard camera video of the police stop captured audio of the police officer stating that he could smell alcohol on Hunt's breath. Hunt was also recorded saying he would have failed a drug test at the time of the citing if one was administered.
There's also the in-house friction that occurred between Hunt and the Browns. He asked for a trade last August andduring the season. Hunt ultimately remained in Cleveland for the remainder of the 2022 season.
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Money is also a possible factor for Hunt remaining unsigned. Given the current climate regarding running back salaries, it's safe to say that Hunt will not come close to receiving his market value. That may be one of the reasons behind his possible decision to not sign somewhere until it is closer to the start of the regular season. By not signing now, Hunt increases the odds of him being healthy and available to play in September. It also keeps his options open while providing the chances for other opportunities to arise.
Hunt, who turned 28 on Aug. 6, is likely looking for a complementary role that would allow him to focus on the things he does best. While his days of being a feature back may be over, Hunt can likely contribute as a quality backup and as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Last season, despite having a limited role, Hunt still caught 35 passes and for his career has 211 catches with 17 resulting in touchdowns.
Denver seems like a logical landing spot for Hunt, given the team's current personnel as well as the fact that Sean Payton covets backs that have Hunt's versatile skillset. Hunt would complement starter Javonte Williams (who is returning from injury) and Samaje Perine, a former backup with the Bengals.
Hunt could fill a similar role in Miami (behind veteran Raheem Mostert) and Detroit (behind David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs). Kansas City could also be an option, assuming that Andy Reid is willing to bring Hunt back into the fold.
Indianapolis is another option given Jonathan Taylor's uncertain future there.
The safe bet is that Hunt will sign to fill a complementary role with a playoff contender. Where and when he will sign, however, is still anyone's guess.