The Cleveland Browns have made the controversial move of signing running back Kareem Hunt, who was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs after video footage surfaced of him shoving and kicking a woman.
Hunt, who has signed a one-year deal with the Browns, is on the NFL commissioner’s exempt list, which means he cannot practice with or play for the Browns, but general manager John Dorsey is willing to roll the dice and offer Hunt a second chance.
The 23-year-old was the NFL’s rushing champion two seasons ago but is currently under investigation by the league for his actions and could face a hefty ban of around 10 games according to multiple reports.
Nevertheless, Browns GM Dorsey, who drafted Hunt for the Chiefs, believes he can offer Hunt a chance to redeem himself after the player showed himself to be taking action to try and turn over a new leaf.
"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.
"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 apologised immediately after the video surfaced, but the Chiefs cut him after saying they’d been misled when being notified of the incident earlier on.
Hunt has now apologised again and says he knows the Browns expect him to change his way in order to be given another shot at playing in the NFL.
"First off, I would like to once again apologise for my actions last February,” said Hunt. “What I did was wrong and inexcusable.
"That is not the man I was raised to be and I certainly should have been more truthful about it after the fact.
"I understand the expectations the Browns have clearly laid out and that I have to earn my way back to the NFL."
Signing Hunt now has several benefits for the Browns, most notably that he is effectively tied to the team for two years, so even if he sits out the majority of the 2019 season he would remain with them for the following year.
There’s already plenty of running backs in Cleveland, with Nick Chubb enjoying a fine rookie season and Duke Johnson only signing a three-year extension last June – but given the uncertainty around Hunt’s availability those two are unlikely to be affected next season.