Browns sign running back Kareem Hunt, who faces suspension after assault investigation

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 11: Kareem Hunt #27 of the Kansas City Chiefs rushes the ball in front of the diving tackle attempt of Haason Reddick #43 of the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter of the game at Arrowhead Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND – One of the biggest questions remaining for the Bears’ offseason is what the team will do at running back.

Is Jordan Howard the starter for the future of the franchise? Would the team try to add someone else that would fit their offense a little better?

That issue came up at Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy’s end-of-season news conference on January 14 at Halas Hall, and the name of a possible replacement emerged: Kareem Hunt.

The talented running back was released by the Chiefs after video surfaced of him punching and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February 2018. Matt Nagy was his offensive coordinator the year before in Kansas City, and neither he nor Pace would outright rule out the Bears signing Hunt this offseason.

In the end the point is moot because Hunt will be playing football in Cleveland next season.

On Monday, the Browns announced that they’ve signed Hunt to a one-year contract. Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the deal could be worth over $1 million. Hunt himself is a native of Willoughby, Ohio, which is located 20 miles Northeast of Cleveland.

Following the signing, both Hunt and Browns general manager John Dorsey released statements on the move.

“There were two important factors: one is that Kareem took full responsibility for his egregious actions and showed true remorse and secondly, just as importantly, he is undergoing and is committed to necessary professional treatment and a plan that has been clearly laid out,” Dorsey said.

Hunt apologized for his actions, saying what he did was wrong and saying he’s “learned a great deal from that experience.”

“I’m a work in progress as a person, but I’m committed to taking advantage of the support systems that I have in place to become the best and healthier version of my self,” Hunt said in the statement.

Hunt remains on the NFL’s commissioner’s exempt list as the investigation into his actions continues, and he could face a lengthy suspension from the league for his actions.

A third-round pick out of Toledo, Hunt burst onto the scene with an incredible rookie year with the Chiefs, with Nagy as offensive coordinator. He rushed for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns while also making 53 catches for 455 yards and three scores. He was experiencing similar success this season before his suspension, rushing for 824 yards and seven touchdowns with 26 catches and seven scores in 11 games.

How far the Bears actually went in exploring the option of Hunt is unknown, but Pace did say the team would look at the situation independent of others in the past where a player was considered despite having off-field troubles.

“I think every one of those is unique. Every one is different. All the circumstances are always different,” Pace said on January 14.

“So we’re not even there yet, you know what I mean. I know what he is as a player, obviously, from watching him. Matt knows a little bit more about him as a person but we’re not even close to that point,” Pace said.

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