The team announced Monday they signed the free agent running back.
The Kansas City Chiefs cut Hunt in late November after video surfaced of the running back shoving and kicking a woman during a February 2018 incident at a Cleveland hotel. The league has yet to finish the investigation into Hunt’s situation. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport previously reported Hunt faces a baseline six-game suspension.
Rapoport adds the deal is for one year and could be worth more than $1 million, not factoring in potential suspension, per a source informed of the pact. After the 2019 season, Hunt would be a restricted free agent.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell noted during Super Bowl week that if Hunt were signed by an NFL team “the clubs understand he’ll go on the Commissioner’s Exempt List at that point in time until the discipline process has concluded whether there is discipline or not discipline we will finish the investigation and then make a determination.”
Rapoport also reported that Hunt, who has been undergoing alcohol and anger management counseling, has had his meeting with NFL investigators regarding the three incidents under review.
Browns general manager John Dorsey, who was in K.C. when the Chiefs drafted Hunt, said in a statement the team understands the reaction some in the Cleveland fan base might have toward signing the running back.
“My relationship and interaction with Kareem since 2016 in college was an important part of this decision making process but we then did extensive due diligence with many individuals, including clinical professionals, to have a better understanding of the person he is today and whether it was prudent to sign him,” Dorsey said. “There were two important factors: one is that Kareem took full responsibility for his egregious actions and showed true remorse and secondly, just as importantly, he is undergoing and is committed to necessary professional treatment and a plan that has been clearly laid out.”
“We fully understand and respect the complexity of questions and issues in signing a player with Kareem’s history and do not condone his actions. Given what we know about Kareem through our extensive research, we believe he deserves a second chance but certainly with the understanding that he has to go through critical and essential steps to become a performing member of this organization, aside from what the NFL determines from their ongoing investigation. We fully understand that Kareem is subject to discipline by the NFL. Here at the Browns, there is a detailed plan with expectations laid out that he understands and must follow, because any similar incident will not be tolerated. We will support Kareem through this process and utilize our resources, however permitted, to help him become successful on and off the field as long as he continues to show the commitment necessary to represent this organization.”
In the team press release, Hunt said he’s learned from the incident.
“First off, I would like to once again apologize for my actions last year. What I did was wrong and inexcusable,” Hunt said in a statement. “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’m extremely grateful that John Dorsey, Dee and Jimmy Haslam and the Cleveland Browns organization are granting me the opportunity to earn their trust and represent their organization in the best way possible on and off the field. 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. I’m a work in progress as a person, but I’m committed to taking advantage of the support systems that I have in place to become the best and healthier version of myself.”
Hours after the signing, Dorsey was understandably peppered by local media with questions about Hunt’s transgressions, and while he leaned on language similar to what was written in the official statement, he also emphasized how important he thinks it is that Hunt receives a chance to right his wrongs.
“I think we’re all appalled by it. It is an egregious act,” Dorsey said. “We all understand that. But after doing more research — extensive research — and analyzing the situation, we came to the conclusion that, I’m willing to help a man on a second chance moving forward to be a better person. And that’s all you can ask for in society and that’s all I’m trying to do.”
Hunt, who was born in a Cleveland suburb and attended college at Toledo, will get a second chance at an NFL career with his hometown team. How long it lasts is on the 23-year-old.
“Again, I keep coming back to this: There are no guarantees,” Dorsey said. “You are going to have to earn the trust in this situation. I truly believe that he will be a better man moving forward than he was in the past.”