The New Orleans Saints could greatly benefit from adding a talented running back this offseason, and trading for Browns’ Kareem Hunt is the most recent rumor to come out of the mill.
Alvin Kamara’s looming suspension means the Saints will be connected to just about every backup running back in the league. In Kamara’s absence last season, the rest of New Orleans’ running back room performed miserably and the current RB depth chart doesn’t look too promising with Mark Ingram, Dwayne Washington, Tony Jones, and Abram Smith.
Cleveland Brown’s Kareem Hunt poses as a viable RB2 threat who can take starting snaps for long stretches of the season, and he’s an immediate plug-and-play option if Kamara misses the beginning of the 2022 season.
Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed named one trade or free agent acquisition every NFL team should pursue before training camp and had NOLA going after Hunt:
"It would only make sense for the Browns to trade Hunt if they keep D’Ernest Johnson. The Saints are bracing for a suspension for running back Alvin Kamara after he was charged with felony battery in February in Las Vegas for the Pro Bowl. If it’s a lengthy suspension, the Saints need a better replacement than Mark Ingram, Tony Jones and Abram Smith. Kamara and Hunt could coexist in New Orleans’ backfield, as well."
Saints could make a sneaky move for Browns RB Kareem Hunt this offseason
Hunt suffered a calf injury last season and started just one game and played in eight, recording 78 carries for 386 rushing yards. More so than any back on the Saints’ RB depth chart, though, Hunt offers dual-threat ability as a receiver out of the backfield, averaging 27.1 receiving yards per game in his career.
In theory, Hunt could fit in perfectly as Kamara’s replacement to start the season, and after Kamara returns, he could be utilized in the same way he was in Cleveland: as a rotational backup who may not necessarily win games but can keep the rushing attack potent and efficient.
The 26-year-old nonetheless comes with a bit of controversy and a spotty past. Back in 2017, Hunt earned Pro Bowl honors in an incredible rookie year with the Chiefs that saw him rush for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns. One year later, he was released by Kansas City after a video of him beating a woman went public.
Now, the Saints have shown they’re willing to turn the other way given their hot pursuit of Deshaun Watson earlier this offseason. Hunt is a solid and productive player who could patch up NOLA’s running back issues and would come at a fairly cheap price, but acquiring another back isn’t as pivotal as, say, acquiring a franchise quarterback, and we don’t see NOLA toeing the line to nab Hunt in 2022.
Ultimately, there are less controversial ball-carriers out there, and even in the aftermath of the nasty Watson situation, the Saints still have a reputation to protect.
Personal history aside, trading for Kareem Hunt makes a lot of sense, but it may not be the wisest long-term option for the franchise.