One of the biggest surprises for the Cleveland Browns over the last few seasons has been running back Kareem Hunt.
The 26-year-old was signed by the organization in 2019 after being cut by the Kansas City Chiefs.
He was suspended for part of the 2019 season, but has proven to be well worth the risk for Cleveland.
When healthy, Hunt has been a reliable option in both the running and receiving game.
Now, the Browns must decide if they want to keep Hunt around long-term.
He’s heading into his final year of his contract and is set to be a free agent after the 2022 season.
Hunting For A New Deal
The expectation is that Hunt is going to want significant money next offseason.
He has proven to be reliable and someone who could be a legitimate starting back for an organization.
However, the Browns already have their franchise running back in Nick Chubb.
The stud running back was recently signed to a nice new extension by the Browns.
The #Browns have agreed in principle on a contract that will keep Nick Chubb in Cleveland through 2024.
The details: 3-years $36.6 million, $20 million fully guaranteed. 💰
— The Hottest Take (@Hottest_TakePod) July 31, 2021
That being said, it’s uncertain if the Browns want to give two running backs long term extensions.
Although, the combination of Chubb and Hunt has worked well for the Browns’ offense.
This is certainly going to be a tough decision for the Browns front office.
It’ll likely come down to what kind of contract Hunt is seeking and how much it’ll cost Cleveland to keep him around.
Possibly, Hunt will give Cleveland another team-friendly team since he has mentioned he wants to continue playing for the Browns.
RB Kareem Hunt says he would love to sign long-term with #Browns; hopes to be part of bringing Super Bowl championship to Cleveland
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) June 22, 2020
On the other side, Hunt has already given the Browns one team-friendly deal.
Now, it could be time for Hunt to think about himself and cash-in on his solid play.
Another strong season by Hunt in 2022 could really drive up his price tag for next offseason.
That being said, Cleveland might want to get an extension done before his value gets higher.
It’s no secret that Chubb and Hunt are one of the best duos in the league.
The Browns would love to keep that combo together, but the 2022 campaign might be their last year playing alongside each other.
The Browns could be without a No. 2 option, assuming Hunt decides to leave next offseason.
Luckily, the Browns do have D’Ernest Johnson who has shown flashes of potential.
Last season, Johnson put together a surprisingly solid season with limited playing time.
He put himself on the map with an outstanding performance against the Denver Broncos last season.
D'Ernest Johnson had a career-high 146 rush yds in the Browns' 17-14 win over the Broncos Thursday.
Johnson had just 11 rush yds this season and 198 career rush yds overall prior to this game. pic.twitter.com/OjT3peCpru
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 22, 2021
Sadly, Johnson was stuck behind Chubb and Hunt for a majority of the season.
Now, the Browns might decide to increase his workload in 2022.
The organization is aware that Hunt is a free agent after the year, so they want to see exactly what they have in Johnson.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Browns let Hunt walk next summer, assuming Johnson continues to play well.
It’s hard to imagine the Browns handing out another big extension after they just signed Chubb.
Instead, they could use Johnson who is a cheaper option and might be able to put together similar production on the field.
There’s a chance that the front office does have extension talks with Hunt, but they aren’t going to break the bank in order to keep him around.
That being said, fans are likely going to see the end of the Chubb/Hunt duo, so hopefully they can make some noise together in 2022.