Kareem Hunt has signed with the Cleveland Browns, a reunion of the ex-Kansas City Chiefs running back and the ex-Chiefs general manager who drafted him, John Dorsey.
Hunt, 23, was waived by the Chiefs on Nov. 30 after TMZ released a video of him pushing and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February of 2017. Hunt, the NFL's 2017 rushing champion as a then-third-round rookie, cleared waivers as the NFL continued to investigate that incident and two other violent situations allegedly involving Hunt.
But a recent ESPN report indicated that Hunt was making progress in anger-management courses and could soon sign with a club. Matt Nagy's Bears were the first team to publicly leave the door open regarding the possibility of adding Hunt, but it's another of Hunt's former bosses, Dorsey's Browns, who will give the talented but troubled running back his second NFL chance.
"My relationship and interaction with Kareem since 2016 in college was an important part of the decision making process," Dorsey said in a statement released by the team, "but we then did extensive due diligence with many individuals, including clinical professionals, to have a better understanding of the person he is today and whether it was prudent to sign him. There were two important factors: one is that Kareem took full responsibility for his egregious actions and secondly, just as importantly, he is undergoing and is committed to necessary professional treatment and a plan that has been clearly laid out."
The statement goes on to read that the Browns are aware of the complexity of this acquisition and that Hunt still faces potential league discipline, that they don't condone his past acts but the team is committed to helping him find success on and off the field in any way it can, and that further similiar incidents moving forward won't be tolerated.
The fit, beyond the obvious relationship between Dorsey and Hunt that the Browns' general manager said in a statement Monday was key in the team's decision, is fascinating. Hunt, who remains subject to a lengthy NFL suspension, could eventually team with second-year RB Nick Chubb and QB Baker Mayfield — two of the NFL's most productive rookies on offense a year ago — to form the league's most talented backfield.
Hunt and Chubb are two of the league's tougher backs to bring down and could give the NFL's No. 13 offense (11th in rushing) an added dimension for head coach Freddie Kitchens and OC Todd Monken to unleash. If the football fit is a fascinating one, perhaps the fact that it's the Browns who have signed Hunt shouldn't be surprising.
From Tyreek Hill and Demetrius Harris in Kansas City to Antonio Callaway and Caleb Brantley in Cleveland, Dorsey has developed quite the reputation for taking on NFL players with past legal transgressions. Some have turned into profound successes, such as Hill, who, since getting arrested and kicked off his college team after an arrest for choking his pregnant girlfriend, has stayed on the straight and narrow in the NFL, where he's become one of the game's most electrifying playmakers.
Will Hunt seize his second NFL opportunity as the Toledo product returns closer to home with the Browns? He's already proven to be an elite on-field playmaker, but this is likely his last chance to prove off the field that he's deserving of the opportunity to step back on it.
This article originally ran on profootballweekly.com.