One-Time Free Agent Target for Vikings Off the Board

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) checks in before an NFL football game at FirstEnergy Stadium, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in Cleveland, Ohio. © Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Cleveland Browns halfback Nick Chubb gruesomely injured his knee on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers and will miss the remainder of the 2023 season [at minimum].

Evidently not totally satisfied with RB2 Jerome Ford in the bellcow role, the Browns front office made a move Wednesday to bring back a familiar face — Kareem Hunt.

One-Time Free Agent Target for Vikings Off the Board

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted Wednesday morning, “Reunion: The Browns and veteran RB Kareem Hunt have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, per source. Hunt scored 23 TDs over the past four seasons in Cleveland. Now he’s back — and figures to have a lot of opportunities after Nick Chubb’s season-ending injury.”

for Vikings Off
Dec 22, 2019; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) flies through the air from a hit by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey (44) during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings auditioned Hunt on August 11th, presumably for an RB2 or RB3 job, but later signed ex-Miami Dolphins tailback Myles Gaskin after roster trimdowns. Vikings fans were delighted at the possibility of adding Hunt, a runner with a history of production.

Then, Minnesota kicked off the 2023 campaign and struggled to run the football, leading to cries once again for the team to sign Hunt. Now, that will not happen, and the Vikings are left with options like RB Leonard Fournette or J.D. McKissic — if they’re interested in another running back in the first place.

Dec 31, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota also employs rookie RB DeWayne McBride on the practice squad.

Hunt spent the last four seasons in Cleveland primarily as a backup to Nick Chubb. Before that, he took the league by storm in Kansas City, even winning the 2017 rushing title as a rookie. He was released in 2018 after a heavily publicized assault incident that never resulted in formal criminal charges.

The 28-year-old has produced 4,025 rushing yards in 76 career games en route to 48 total touchdowns and a career average of 4.5 yards per carry. He’s also an adept pass-catching halfback, recording 211 receptions in six seasons as a pro.

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) reacts after running for a first down in the third quarter during an NFL Week 8 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. NFL Cincinnati Bengals At Cleveland Browns Oct 31, 0028

It’s worth noting, however, that Hunt’s yards per attempt dipped from 4.9 in 2021 to 3.8 in 2022 behind a solid Browns offensive line.

In 2022, Cleveland ran the ball the eighth-most in the NFL, so losing Chubb on Monday was a ginormous blow. The aforementioned Ford looked efficient in the immediate aftermath of Chubb’s departure, but Hunt simply adds more depth and a familiar skillset.

Aug 3, 2023; Canton, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski looks on before the game between the Browns and the New York Jets at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports.

The Browns also employ Pierre Strong, a South Dakota State alumnus, on the depth chart.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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