Hunt requests to be traded from Cleveland, Browns decline request. What happens now?
Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb make up one of the most dynamic back fields in the NFL, but Cleveland could see that tandem broken up before the season starts.
Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb are one of the top back field partnerships in the league, but they could be broken up after Hunt sent a trade request to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The Browns have denied his request, so what happens now?
Hunt in final year of two year deal
Hunt is entering his final season of a two year, $12 million deal and has expressed his desire to get a long term deal from the Browns. The dual threat running back was absent from Cleveland’s last two practices, and is not planning on participating in any team activities until there is a resolution to his contract demands.
Since coming to Cleveland three years ago, Hunt has played second fiddle to Nick Chubb, who has been a thousand yard rusher in each of those three seasons. Hunt’s top rushing performance in a Browns jersey came in 2020 when he had 841 yards and six touchdowns, but last year he missed nine games due to calf and ankle injuries. He finished the season with just 386 yards and five touchdowns.
Despite the dip in numbers last year, he and Chubb make up one of the most feared running back duos in the league. Hunt’s ability to catch the ball out of the back field gives the Cleveland offense a dynamic that could prove deadly if Deshaun Watson can get back to his best after his suspension. The new Cleveland QB was suspended for six games, , but that decision is at the appeal stage as the NFL is looking for a lengthier punishment.
Heavy work load coming for Browns backs
While no one knows how long Watson’s suspension will be, we do know it will be either Josh Rosen, Jacoby Brissett or Joshua Dobbs in the backfield for a good portion of the season, so you could imagine a heavy dose of rushing game from a team that already likes to run the ball.
Hunt is looking for a bit more security before the final year. He is coming off of a season in which he spent half the time on the sidelines injured, and if that were to happen again this year it would jeopardize his chance of getting a big contract next offseason.
Perhaps Hunt is unhappy with his contract situation because his teammate and backfield partner Nick Chubb is set to make double what he is supposed to make this year. The Brown’s leading rusher from last year is set to make $12 million this season, while Hunt is on track to get six million.
The Browns have rejected the trade request and now a tense stand off is likely on the horizon in Cleveland. There are only a few ways this situation is going to end.
Hunt’s hold out options
It appeared that Hunt was looking to stay in Cleveland, but on his terms. He wants a contract extension, and he wants to be paid if not as much, close to as much, as his back field counterpart.
A trade doesn’t seem likely because the Browns seem intent on holding on to Hunt and keeping one of the top rushing tandems in the league in tact. That’s most likely why they rejected the trade request. Both sides appear to want the same thing, but will Cleveland pay up to keep their pass catching running back?
If they don’t come to terms, then a long term hold out could be coming in Cleveland. That would mean that Hunt sits out until someone budges in the negotiations. If that’s the case the Browns won’t have Hunt, and Hunt will be fined for each game that he misses. If neither side blinks, both sides come out losing. All though it’s rare, there are some cases where players have held out the entire season like Le’Veon Bell did with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018.
Deebo and DK got paid after hold outs
There is also the possibility of Hunt “holding in.” Holding in is a new way to deal with contract disputes, in which a player goes to the team facilities and trains on his own, away from the team. If there is no contract resolution the a player can do what Jalen Ramsey did with the Jacksonville in 2019. He missed the beginning of the season due to a “back-ailment.” After not playing in the first three games of the season the Jaguars decided to trade him to the Los Angeles Rams.
This offseason, we have already seen a few hold outs resolved by the team caving to a star players demands. DK Metcalf and the Seattle Seahawks came to an agreement before things got too ugly, so did Deebo Samuel and the San Francisco 49ers who agreed to a three year, big money deal.