The Browns made headlines on Monday when they signed former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt to their team. The 23-year-old Hunt is currently on the commissioner’s exempt list stemming from an assault on a woman last year that was caught on camera.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Cleveland will be giving Hunt a one-year deal and that he’ll be a restricted free agent in 2020, which means the Browns will still own his rights before the 2020 free agency period.
What did the Browns say about signing Hunt?
Here’s a statement from Browns general manager John Dorsey — who drafted Hunt when he was the general manager of Kansas City Chiefs:
“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. 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.”
Here’s what Kareem Hunt had to say about signing with Cleveland:
“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. 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.”
Dorsey expanded on why he believes Hunt deserves a second chance at a Monday afternoon press conference.
“It is talking to people. It is talking to multitudes of people. It is sitting or having conversations with him and understanding the depth of him,” Dorsey said. “Does he truly understand the actions that have transpired? Is he willing to move forward and develop himself as a person and be able to treat other people the way he wants to be treated? I think that is how you go about this.”
Dorsey acknowledged that they did not contact the woman from the hotel that Hunt was seen pushing and kicking in the video. He also said that Hunt would be under a “zero-tolerance” policy with the team.
“This happens to be one of those situations where at the end day, the organization was comfortable moving forward with signing this player,” Dorsey added.
He mentioned he believes the NFL will rule on Hunt’s punishment in the coming weeks. The former Pro Bowler is facing a lengthy suspension once he’s cleared from the league’s exempt list.
What’s the status of the NFL’s investigation?
Hunt was released by the Chiefs on Nov. 30 for lying to the team about his involvement with the assault investigation. This was the Chiefs’ statement at the time:
“Earlier this year, we were made aware of an incident involving running back Kareem Hunt. At that time, the National Football League and law enforcement initiated investigations into the issue. As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him. Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately.”
The incident that was caught on video isn’t the only incident that Hunt has been involved with over the past year. Hunt was accused of assault for an incident at a nightclub in January of 2018, but he was not arrested or charged.
But the NFL can still hand out punishment to players even without arrests or charges.
The league’s investigation into Hunt is still ongoing. It did not interview him after video emerged of the incident with the woman at the hotel, but it has interviewed him since.
Before the Super Bowl, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed Hunt’s situation.
“If he is signed by a club, the clubs understand he’ll go on the Commissioner’s Exempt List at that point in time until the discipline process has concluded whether there is discipline or not discipline we will finish the investigation and then make a determination,” Goodell said. “There has been a tremendous amount of progress though in that investigation over the last I’d say 30 to 60 days.”
The NFL’s baseline policy for these situations is a six-game suspension, but Hunt could be facing a longer suspension due to two separate incidents. The league has been inconsistent in how it’s applied punishment to players, though.
While Hunt is on the commissioner’s exempt list, he isn’t allowed to practice or play games with the team. However, he will be allowed to go to meetings and work out with the team as they get ready for the upcoming season. Hunt won’t count against the 53-man roster while he’s on the exempt list.