Kareem Hunt: What other NFL players have had a trade request denied?
With the Cleveland Browns denying Kareem Hunt’s request for a trade, we look at other players who have had to stay put against their will
The NFL is a medieval enterprise being yanked in fits and starts toward the 21st century. Every once in a while, they will make a forward-looking move, like addressing head trauma amongst players, and then they will turn around and behave as if all of the trade union actions of the twentieth century never happened.
It is one of the few business models left in existence where the business, quite literally, “owns” their employees. If you or I want to move jobs, we can do that. Give a notice, quit, look for a better job, or just a change of scenery. No matter, workers are free to come and go as they choose. But not in the NFL.
The latest example of this modern twist on indentured servitude is Kareem Hunt. The Cleveland Browns’ running back has asked for a trade and the team has declined the request.
Now, before we start feeling too sorry for Hunt, let’s keep in mind that he came to Cleveland under the same black cloud that is following Deshaun Watson. After leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie, he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs when a video surfaced of him hitting and kicking a woman. The Browns picked him up and he sat out the first eight games of the following season after being suspended.
He has had an injury-plagued time in Cleveland, missing nine games last season, still finishing with 386 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the year.
Hunt is far from the highest profile player to have had a transfer request denied. In fact, his Browns team mate Deshaun Watson has also had to play under duress, when Texas refused to trade him in 2021. After a standout season in 2020, Watson demanded to be traded to a team who were capable of winning and Houston flat out denied the request.
After karma coming back to bite him in a big way, he was finally traded to the Browns and handed a six-game suspension for what can only be described as a stack of sexual assault complaints. The league is looking at the suspension on appeal and there is a very real possibility that he might have to miss the entire 2022 season.
Even bigger fish are fried in this trade cauldron, however, with Deebo Samuel being held in San Francisco and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. In the case of Samuel, he has been their leading rusher and receiver, often producing more than 90% of their offensive attack. While the trade rumor mill has been swirling around Jimmy Garropolo, and the 49ers seemingly willing to deal the quarterback, they have simply said “no dice” to any offer for Deebo.
Aaron Rodgers was the defending MVP in 2021 when he demanded to be traded. The Packers steady refusal to draft the offensive weapons that he needed to get a Super Bowl win left him frustrated and when Green Bay drafted his replacement in the form of Jordan Love, he put his foot down.
Going so far as to publicly contemplate retirement, the Pack held him in Wisconsin by paying him $150 million over three years. He went on, disgruntled as he was, to pick up another MVP award.
The Seahawks are in a bind coming into this season, after trading away their quarterback to the Denver Broncos, but before that happened, they initially refused to deal him away. Russel Wilson had made it clear that he wanted to be traded before the 2021 season, and the front office simply ignored the request, he was left to play out a season for a team that he felt unconnected to.
Once the trade was finalized a season later, Wilson and the Seahawks tried to smooth over the bumps by saying that he had never officially requested a trade, but when the writing is on the wall, it is clear for all to see.