Cleveland Browns: Kareem Hunt addition could lead to Duke Johnson’s departure
The Cleveland Browns added running back Kareem Hunt and despite his looming suspension, his role on the team could lead to the end of Duke Johnson’s tenure
On Monday, the Cleveland Browns made some big news as they agreed to terms with former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. On the surface, this is a move where they added a sensational talent who isn’t even in the prime of his career.
At just 23 years of age, Hunt already has a league rushing title under his belt as the former third-round pick racked up 1,327 yards as a rookie. He was on pace for another 1,000-yard season in 2018 as he had 824 yards in 11 games before a video was released that showed him shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel.
That led to his release from the Chiefs, and there’s still a pending suspension for him as well. Even with all that being true, there was still a market for Hunt as teams were doing their due diligence on him ahead of the 2019 season. In the end, Hunt chose to join Cleveland as the Ohio-native picked his hometown team.
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How this plays out on the field has yet to be seen but it does cause an interesting dynamic. Cleveland featured Nick Chubb as their starter for the final nine games in 2018 and he was great. He ended up averaging 5.2 yards per rush and had 996 yards on the season.
As much as Hunt is respected as a runner, that’s a half-yard per carry more on the ground for Chubb than what Hunt has averaged. That means Chubb will need his carries as well since he’s proven he can be a playmaker in this league.
It won’t be impossible to get both players enough touches, but it will take some work. And it will also mean that there will be limited snaps for anyone besides Hunt and Chubb — which brings us to Duke Johnson.
Signed to a three-year extension before this past year, Johnson was already struggling to get snaps. He had a career-low in carries with just 40 this season while also seeing his receptions drop from 74 to 47.
Even with the dip in production, Duke was the most accomplished receiving back on the team as Chubb was adequate in this area, but not exactly a threat. That’s no longer the case as Hunt offers a player who can excel at catching the ball out of the backfield.
As a rookie, Hunt had 53 receptions for 455 yards and three touchdowns. In year two, he was already up to 378 yards off 26 receptions and seven touchdowns before his release. Most impressively, Hunt averaged 14.5 yards per catch which is more than five yards more than Johnson averages. Hunt also had nearly as many touchdowns in 11 games as Johnson does for his career (8).
All that being said, the first on the field question regarding this signing is what does it mean for Nick Chubb. But the tougher question is what does it mean for Duke Johnson.
He’s a fan favorite, but the fact is Kareem Hunt joining the Browns could very well lead to the departure of Duke Johnson.