Despite the off-the-field drama, Cleveland believed Hunt could bring value to their roster.
They were right as the former Pro Bowl running back has been a dangerous weapon alongside Nick Chubb.
Although, the former third-round pick might not be in Cleveland for too much longer.
In fact, the 2022 season is Hunt’s final year on his contract with the Browns.
Possibly, the two sides decide to part ways following next season.
One More Year
It wouldn’t be shocking to see Hunt hit free agency after this upcoming season.
The 26-year-old has certainly rebuilt his value during his three years in Cleveland.
In 2020, the Browns signed Hunt to a two-year extension.
We've signed @Kareemhunt7 to a 2-year contract extension!
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 8, 2020
A deal that ended up being an absolute steal for the Browns.
Hunt signed a two-year deal worth $12 million with $5.5 million guaranteed.
This was a great deal for Cleveland considering what Hunt has done on the field.
Although, now it might be time for Hunt to cash-in and get paid next offseason.
It’s uncertain if the Browns are willing to bring back Hunt in 2023 under a new deal.
It would obviously cost Cleveland more money than the first extension, but could be worth it.
However, the front office might wait it out and see how Hunt performs during the 2022 campaign.
Next Man Up
There’s a chance that the Browns don’t bring back Hunt in 2023.
The front office has already extended lead back Nick Chubb to a long-term deal.
It’s unlikely that the Browns organization wants to pay two running backs significant money.
It’s also worth noting that the Browns have a possible replacement for Hunt in the form of D’Ernest Johnson.
The 26-year-old put together solid numbers for Cleveland last season.
D’Ernest Johnson: 90.0 PFF rushing grade vs the Broncos
That’s the highest single-game rushing grade this season 😤😤 pic.twitter.com/zsggdLKuiv
— PFF (@PFF) October 22, 2021
Johnson put together a massive performance against the Denver Broncos last season.
He totaled 168 yards and one touchdown in their victory without quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Johnson finished the season with 534 rushing yards and 137 receiving yards with three touchdowns in 17 games.
Often times, Johnson was stuck behind Chubb and Hunt, which made it difficult for him to shine.
However, the Browns could have a legitimate option in Johnson, but need to let Hunt walk in order for them to find out.
Stay or Go?
As mentioned before, the Browns are likely going to wait until after the upcoming season to talk an extension with Hunt.
They want to see what he can still bring to the table after only playing in eight games last season.
The talent is certainly there, but the Browns don’t want to pay Hunt to play half a year.
That being said, the Browns have time to evaluate both Hunt and Johnson.
The Browns would save money by keeping Johnson since Chubb is going to be the lead back anyway.
Although, losing a talent such as Hunt could significantly hurt the Browns rushing attack.
It’s uncertain if Johnson can be long-term reliable option behind Chubb.
It will likely all come down to how significant of a salary increase Hunt is asking for next offseason.
However, the two sides are unlikely to have serious discussions on an extension anytime soon.