The Cleveland Browns signed troubled running back Kareem Hunt on Monday.
A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Hunt signed a one-year contract. He will be a restricted free agent after the contract expires, meaning the Browns will control his rights after next season.
The Kansas City Chiefs released Hunt in December after a video surfaced that showed him shoving and kicking a woman last February at his residence in Cleveland.
He neither was arrested nor faced charges for the February incident. He also was accused of punching a man in June.
Outside the Lines interviewed witnesses and reviewed police documents and nearly four hours of officer bodycam video for the most complete account to date of the night that jeopardized Kareem Hunt’s NFL career.
The NFL placed Hunt on the commissioner’s exempt list shortly before he was released. He is not eligible to play until the NFL completes its investigation into the incidents and a decision on potential discipline is made.
A source close to the situation told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that the discipline process was “still ongoing and nowhere near done.” A source told Graziano that Hunt met with NFL investigators in January as part of the process.
Hunt, now that he has signed, will again be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list until the NFL makes a final decision on discipline.
Browns general manager John Dorsey drafted Hunt for the Chiefs in 2017, when Dorsey was the team’s GM.
“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.
“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.”
Hunt, 23, apologized to the woman in the February incident, the Chiefs organization and his family in an interview with ESPN after his release.
He apologized again in the Browns’ statement on Monday.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
“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.”
Dorsey said the Browns “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,” Dorsey said.
“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.”
Hunt led the NFL in rushing in 2017 as a rookie with 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns in helping Kansas City qualify for the playoffs. He also had 53 receptions for 455 yards and three touchdowns. Last season, he rushed for 824 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games and had seven receiving touchdowns before he was released.
Hunt’s signing is a bit of a surprise given the Browns have a talented corps of backs. Nick Chubb ran for 996 yards in nine starts as a rookie, and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. The team also has Duke Johnson, who is a very accomplished change-of-pace back and receiver out of the backfield. Johnson also averaged 5 yards per carry (on 40 carries) in 2018, and in 2017 had 1,041 total yards and seven touchdowns. The Browns signed Johnson to a three-year, $15.6 million contract last June. He is under contract with the Browns through the 2021 season.
ESPN’s Pat McManamon contributed to this report.