Browns running back Kareem Hunt was born in Ohio, played college football in Ohio and, if he has his way, will finish his NFL career in Ohio.
Hunt, who turns 27 in August, is entering his fourth and final year under contract with the Cleveland Browns. His preference moving forward is to strike another deal to remain with the team for years to come.
“I was born and raised here,” Hunt told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com on Thursday. “I’d love to finish my career here and just keep playing the game with (Nick) Chubb longer and with the great guys on this great team.”
Hunt struggled to stay on the field last season — 522 out of his 560 total yards from scrimmage came in the club’s first six games. Cleveland’s change-of-pace RB then missed five games with a calf injury, returning for only two more weeks and 11 touches before an ankle injury ended his campaign for good.
He still displayed a nose for the end zone, finding pay dirt five times, but his numbers were a far cry from the 1,145 total yards and 11 touchdowns Hunt posted as the Robin to Chubb’s Batman in 2020. It’s no coincidence that the Browns broke through to win a playoff game for the first time in 26 years that season.
The Browns would surely love to see a return to both health and form from Hunt in the upcoming year, but performance alone won’t guarantee an extension if Cleveland chooses to wait and see more results rather than working out a new deal ahead of the season.
Instead, the financial situation in the running back room could end up playing the biggest factor.
Thanks to a well-earned extension of his own, Chubb will have his contract jump from a cap hit of $5.21 million in 2022 to $14.85 million in 2023, per Over The Cap. That number increases again to $16.2 million for the 2024 season.
In an era of devalued veteran RBs, it may not be feasible for the Browns to retain Hunt considering their already hefty investment at the position — especially if he bolters his worth by elevating his stats back to a level indicative of his talents.
That’s a question for next year, however. For now, Hunt is choosing to keep his head down and focus on what’s in front of him.
“Right now I’m just taking it day by day, man,” Hunt said. “I’m going to see what they want to do with me and I’m just taking it day by day. Hopefully I can be here long term. We’ll see what God has in plan for me, that’s all I can say.”
And if stacking days this season eventually culminates in a championship?
“It’ll mean the most to me being from Cleveland,” he said. “I definitely want to bring a Super Bowl home, so we’ll see.”
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