The Browns have signed running back Kareem Hunt, the team announced Monday and immediately went about explaining itself.
The NFL's leading rusher as a rookie in 2017 was released Nov. 30 by the Chiefs after video surfaced of him shoving and kicking a woman in the hallway of a Cleveland hotel last February. The league is investigating that incident as well as his involvement in a violent nightclub incident in January and an altercation at a restaurant in June.
It is in that context that immediately after the Browns announced they had signed Hunt that the team released a statement by general manager John Dorsey — who drafted Hunt in Kansas City — that read, in part:
“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.”
A league spokesman told MMQB.com that its investigation into the incidents involving Hunt is ongoing "and the team understands he's subject to league discipline.”
A multigame suspension, likely six games or more, will cut into his 2019 season, according to multiple reports. Now that Hunt has signed with the Browns, he will go on the commissioner's exempt list.
As a rookie in 2017, Hunt, who played collegiately at Toledo, led the NFL with 1,327 rushing yards en route to a Pro Bowl selection. He became just the sixth rookie since 1966 (Super Bowl era) to lead the league in rushing yards.
In a statement via the Browns, Hunt expressed remorse for his behavior dating to last January.
“First off, I would like to once again apologize for my actions last year. 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’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."
Hunt appeared in 11 games in 2018 and had 824 rushing yards, 378 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns before his release in late November. According to ESPN.com, Hunt's deal is for one year after which he'll be a restricted free agent.