Back in November, a video surfaced of Kareem Hunt — a young star running back for the Kansas City Chiefs — appearing to assault a young woman in the hallway of a hotel. The same day, Hunt was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, and then was released by the Chiefs.
Hunt did not sign with another NFL team for the rest of the season, but now he’s found a new team.
The Cleveland Browns announced Monday that they have signed Hunt to a contract, ESPN reported. According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the contract is “a 1-year deal that could be worth more than $1M not factoring in the suspension,” and Hunt will be a restricted free agent after next season.
Hunt — who is only 23 years old, and began his NFL career in 2017 — is likely looking at a suspension before he is able to play again. The NFL’s investigation into the hotel incident is ongoing. Hunt is from Northeast Ohio, went to college at the University of Toledo, and the incident in question took place in Cleveland.
John Dorsey, the Browns’ general manager, was in the same position with the Chiefs at the time that Hunt was drafted.
“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 in a statement from the team. The Browns, he added, “fully understand and respect the complexity of questions and issues in signing a player with Kareem’s history and do not condone his actions.”
The video, released by TMZ in November, showed Hunt rushing at, kicking, and shoving a 19-year-old woman. The incident had been reported on previously, although Hunt did not face any criminal charges.
In a similar incident in 2014, another NFL running back, Ray Rice, was caught on videotape striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in a hotel elevator. Rice had been suspended for two games following the release of an earlier video — one which had shown him dragging her out of the elevator. But after the video of the actual punch was released, Rice was released by his team, the Baltimore Ravens. He never played in the NFL again.
The Browns had their best season in years in 2018, recovering from a winless season in 2017 to win seven games under rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. The team hopes to continue their upswing in 2019 under new coach Freddie Kitchens. However, Nick Chubb, also a rookie, emerged in 2018 as an impact player at the running back position.