Yet again, we’re going to be discussing running back during the off-season. Despite the promise that Ronald Jones showed in his second season, it just wasn’t good enough overall throughout the season. For the Buccaneers, a potential solution is a player with a troubled past that underwhelmed in Cleveland.
Yep. The Bucs need to sign Kareem Hunt.
Hunt was one of the most electric players in the NFL before being cut by the Kansas City Chiefs following a video of him hitting a woman was released last year. As a result, Hunt was suspended for half the season and subsequently picked up by the Cleveland Browns.
I highlighted Bruce Arians’ past with troubled players when debating Hunt last year and there is no question that Hunt could fill that David Johnson role in Arians’ offense in Tampa Bay next season and beyond. In fact, I’m not the only one who believes this.
Greg Patuto of Clutch Points put the Buccaneers as the most attractive team for Hunt in 2020, citing the lack of explosion out of the RoJo/Peyton Barber duo. Neither one is a three down back and neither is really a threat in the passing game. Hunt checks both those boxes.
Finding an explosive playmaker at the running back position that can do the things that Hunt can isn’t exactly easy. His lack of production in Cleveland (179 rushing yards, 285 receiving yards, three total touchdowns) can be attributed to a few things. First, Nick Chubb is the guy. He was going into the season, with or without Hunt, and that wasn’t going to change. Second, the Browns’ offense wasn’t anywhere near what many projected heading into 2019. In typical Browns fashion, they were a huge disappointment and couldn’t live up to the off-season hype they received.
A new location, a new start for Hunt under a guy like Arians may be exactly what he needs to reignite his career. He signed a one year, $1.1-million dollar deal with the Browns last year and his production won’t warrant any kind of extravagant raise. Bringing in Hunt for around $2-2.5-million a year could be considered a steal given what he’s capable of and the increase in opportunity he would receive.
Now, teams will be after play making running backs this off-season given the fact that the top five rushing teams in the NFL all made the postseason while the top five passing teams did not. Take all your analytics and throw them out the window because those analytics will tell you that you don’t need to run the ball but the fact of the matter is you still have to have a top running game if you’re going to play in January. The more things change, the more they stay the same. You have to be able to run - and stop the run - if you’re getting into the tournament. The Buccaneers can do one of those things better than anyone else in the NFL. The other?
Well, Kareem Hunt would certainly make a big difference.