Controversial running back Kareem Hunt is back in the NFL, but not with the Bears.
The Browns signed Hunt on Monday. According to multiple reports, it’s a one-year deal that’s potentially worth more than $1 million.
During the Bears’ season-ending news conference Jan. 14, general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy opened the door to the possibility of signing Hunt when asked about him. At the very least, they would discuss Hunt and his future internally.
Nagy was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator in 2017, when Hunt became the NFL’s leading rusher as a rookie. Nagy said he had a “good conversation” with Hunt on the phone after the Bears’ season ended.
“Here’s a kid that I spent a year coaching on offense,” Nagy said at the time. “It’s a tough situation. I wanted to [make] sure that he’s OK, but understanding, too, the situation that happened is unfortunate for everybody. He knows that.
“The only thing I cared about when I talked to him was literally his personal life, how he’s doing. It was a good conversation. He sounded good. But that’s it.”
Bears chairman George McCaskey gets involved when it comes to signing players with troubled pasts, such as Hunt. But on Jan. 28, McCaskey told the Sun-Times that internal talks regarding Hunt hadn’t progressed.
“We’re not there yet,” McCaskey said. “The player’s not even eligible. The important thing is that he address issues in his personal life at this point.”
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The Chiefs released Hunt on Nov. 30 after a video emerged of him pushing and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel. No charges were filed in the incident.
Hunt, though, is still subject to NFL discipline. Now that he’s on the Browns, he will be on the reserve/commissioner exempt list until the league concludes its investigation.
Browns general manager John Dorsey’s history with Hunt factored into the signing. In a statement, he cited “extensive research” of Hunt. Dorsey was the Chiefs’ GM when the team drafted Hunt in the third round in 2017.
“First off, I would like to once again apologize for my actions last year,” Hunt said in a statement. “What I did was wrong and inexcusable. That is not the man I was raised to be, and I’ve learned a great deal from that experience and certainly should have been more truthful about it after the fact. …
“I am committed to following the necessary steps to learn and to be a better and healthier person from this situation. I also understand the expectations that the Browns have clearly laid out and that I have to earn my way back to the NFL.”