The Cleveland Browns have been a laughing stock of the NFL nearly every year since they returned to the National Football League as an expansion franchise in 1999. They have had an incredibly limited amount of success since then, to the point that the fact that they nearly posted a non-losing record in 2018 was celebrated by many as a great achievement.
And relatively speaking, it was, especially given the fact that they did not win a single game in 2017, and came away with just a single victory between the 2016 and 2017 seasons combined. That is so hard to do that it, in fact, had never even been done before.
So it seemed to me to be an unusual decision for the team to draw negative publicity to itself when it was announced earlier this offseason that they had signed embattled running back Kareem Hunt to a one-year contract for the 2019 season.
While that contract contains no guaranteed money, the whole thing just seems unnecessary, especially at this point before we know anything about Hunt’s future, which will inevitably include a significant suspension.
Yesterday at the NFL Scouting Combine, new head coach Freddie Kitchens commented on the decision, noting that Hunt has “got a lot of work to do between now and the time that second chance comes. So we’ll see how that goes, but right now, we’re day to day and just trying to offer him support where he needs to become a better person and to get him eventually on the field”.
Kitchens started the 2018 season as the Browns’ running backs coach under offensive coordinator Todd Haley, working with Duke Johnson, Carlos Hyde (at first), and rookie Nick Chubb. Cleveland traded Hyde during the season, and after Haley was fired, Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator, giving Chubb a bigger role, and he had a lot of success in the second half of the year, while they already struggle to find Johnson enough touches.
It’s worth remembering that Browns General Manager John Dorsey held the same position with the Kansas City Chiefs when they drafted Hunt. He was there when the Chiefs drafted Tyreek Hill, and in Cleveland when they drafted Caleb Brantley and Antonio Callaway. So this isn’t new for him.
It seems a bit new for Kitchens, however, and he has been cautious in speaking about Hunt. “I’ve talked to Kareem on several occasions, and he’s very remorseful about what he’s done”, he said. “Now it’s our job to move forward and support him and get him to a place as an individual and a person to give him the opportunity, a second chance, per se”.