Browns’ Kareem Hunt isn’t worried about trade rumors as the deadline approaches

BEREA – Rumors are swirling around Kareem Hunt. The trade deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m., and the Browns are one of the hot potential move targets.

Hunt doesn’t take the talk personally, though.

“I mean, it is what it is,” Hunt said Saturday afternoon. “This is a business. I just go out there and show up and play, man.”

The Browns will play less than 24 hours before the deadline to potentially move the veteran, who is in the final year of his contract. They will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

The results of this game could very well determine whether or not the Browns sign Hunt. They enter the game mired in a fourth straight losing streak that drops them to 2-5 and two and a half games behind the first-place Baltimore Ravens, who won Thursday at Tampa Bay to improve to 5-3.

“I don’t talk to them about that stuff, man,” Hunt said of any trade requests or talk. “I just show up to work. Work for my boys, show up, split it with the boys. Push them.

Browns running back Kareem Hunt, left, celebrates as he walks off the field with Nick Chubb after a 29-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Cleveland.

The Bengals come to Cleveland a half-game behind the Ravens, who have beaten both Ohio teams in the previous three weeks. The Browns, meanwhile, have won seven of eight over the Bengals, including last year’s series, one of which came in the regular-season finale in which the Bengals rested most of their key players.

A win on Monday would be a boost to the Browns’ bye week. A loss could mean a lot of changes, both in the lineup and the coaching staff.

It’s the Browns’ current slump, not the rumors about his future, that Hunt can’t shake.

“Yeah, I hate to lose,” Hunt said. “I’m a competitive person. I can lose to paper scissors and get upset, so that’s the job.”

The Browns will have essentially 16 hours after Monday night’s game to make a move if they decide to deal Hunt. If that happens, he admits it will be a bittersweet moment.

Hunt grew up on Cleveland’s east side and played high school football at Willoughby South. He hopes to stay with his hometown team, but if he goes, he feels like he’s left his mark.

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) tries to run away from Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (14) after a catch in the first second of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Baltimore.  (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) tries to run away from Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (14) after a catch in the first second of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

“I mean, there’s going to be mixed emotions for sure,” Hunt said, “but they’re going to know that I gave it my all here in Cleveland, and that’s what I’ll always do and continue to do.”

Teams like the Philadelphia Eagles have been linked to Hunt in trade rumors. The exact return the Browns are hoping to get for him is generally seen as a mid-round pick, perhaps the fourth round.

What would a team get if they acquired the former NFL leader?

“Yeah, they’re going to get a great player,” said Hunt, who signed with the Browns in 2019 after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs the year before because of an off-field incident involving a woman.

Hunt’s name has been linked to potential trades since the end of the season, when the Browns were believed to be glutted with running backs behind Nick Chubb. However, nothing materialized from that, nor from a training camp contract dispute that became public.

Hunt and his representatives went to the Browns during camp with a trade request, which was denied. While this was happening, he refused to participate in team drills for two days of camp, doing only individual drills.

“I don’t know if it is or not,” Hunt said when asked if the trade rumors were a holdover from those camp talks. “That’s how I felt and I’m ready for anything. I play football, man. I love the game.”

The season began with high expectations for the potential of what a Chubb-Hunt backfield could do for the Browns. That was especially true given the questions surrounding the quarterback position due to Deshaun Watson’s 11-game suspension.

The opening in Carolina showed all that potential. Despite just eight games on the field together, the two standout running backs have gotten along well with each other.

Chubb rushed for 141 yards against the Panthers. Hunt, however, rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and added 24 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches.

Hunt’s workload remained steady over the next four games, at roughly 11.5 rushing attempts and between two and four targets per game. Over the past two weeks, however, his touches have dropped significantly, with a combined nine carries against the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens for 16 net yards, plus one 4-yard catch on three targets.

“I mean, I wouldn’t say it bothers me,” Hunt said. “I would like to help the team win, but I am a team person. My biggest thing is winning and losing and we don’t. We don’t win, so.”

Hunt’s snap percentages in both the Patriots and Ravens games didn’t drop the way his touches did in them. He was on the field for 30 snaps, or 43 percent of the Browns’ offensive snaps, against the Patriots and 28 snaps — 47 percent — against the Ravens.

Browns running back Kareem Hunt runs during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Cleveland.

Browns running back Kareem Hunt runs during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Cleveland.

Except for the fact that he was on the field for 56% of the snaps against Carolina, Hunt’s snap percentages per game have been steady between 43% and 49%.

“I guess that’s how the game goes, you know?” Hunt said. “I mean, it is what it is. I can’t control these things. When they call my number, I just go out there.

Hunt has stayed healthy this season, something that plagued him a year ago. His 2021 season was limited to just eight games due to calf and ankle injuries, plus a bout with COVID-19, and he finished with 386 yards rushing and five touchdowns, along with 174 yards receiving.

So far this season, even with the lack of touches the past two weeks, Hunt has rushed for 263 yards and three touchdowns on 66 carries. He added 15 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.

“I mean, it’s not easy, but I’m a guy that can put my pride aside and just keep going out and doing my job,” Hunt said. “I love the game of football and I enjoy it every time I touch the field.”

Wherever the field Hunt plays after Monday night.

Contact Chris at [email protected]

On Twitter: @ceasterling ABJ

This article originally appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal: Kareem Hunt unfazed by trade rumors as Browns ready for Bengals

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