Denver Broncos connected to free agent RB Kareem Hunt

Los Angeles Chargers v Cleveland Browns
Los Angeles Chargers v Cleveland Browns / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

As the Denver Broncos head into their annual offseason programs, former Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt has emerged as a potential late free agency target for the team as they look to fill in their last spot on the depth chart in the RB room.

According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Broncos are a "team to watch" for the 27-year-old back entering his 7th season in the NFL and could make a lot of sense as a fit in Denver for several reasons. With Sean Payton's plan to transform Denver's offense into a 'run first' powerhouse, the team will need to add as many experienced, healthy bodies in the room as possible.

As many know, former Cincinnati Bengals RB Samaje Perine agreed to a 2-year, $7.5M deal with the Broncos in March that added some much-needed depth and insurance behind the recovering Javonte Williams however, aside from those two, there is a ton of inexperience and "unknown" potential in the RB room.

As of now, Denver's RB room consists of the following:

  • Javonte Williams (2 years)
  • Samaje Perine (6 years)
  • Tyler Badie (1 year)
  • Damarea Crockett (2 years)
  • Tony Jones Jr. (3 years)
  • Jaleel McLaughlin (R)
  • Emanuel Wilson (R)
  • Tyreik McAllister (1 year)

Excluding Williams and Perine, the current RB room has a combined five starts in the NFL and all five of them are from Tony Jones Jr. who was coached by Sean Payton in New Orleans. While Payton has had a tremendous track record with young RBs and getting the most out of his skill positions in general, the Broncos may want to shift towards Kareem Hunt if they are truly operating in a 'win now' mode.

Hunt has 36 career starts in the NFL however, only 9 over the last 4 seasons. On the other hand, he was forced to essentially take the backseat to Cleveland's Nick Chubb, who is arguably the best RB in the NFL and was still able to produce very solid numbers in 49 games.

In four seasons with the Browns, Hunt rushed 442 times for 1874 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. In addition, he reeled in 132 receptions for 973 yards and 7 touchdowns through the air. Hunt adds the explosive dynamic in open space that is very fitting and appealing to Sean Payton's offensive tendencies we have seen him run for the last 15 years.

Before Hunt's incident of attacking a woman in a hotel that ultimately led to his release from the Chiefs, he was averaging just below five yards per carry and was putting up crazy numbers. Granted, it has been 5-6 years since this breakout, but you have to wonder what he can provide for a team as a temporary starter considering he served as a backup ever since parting ways from Kansas City.

Depending on what decision the Broncos' coaching staff and front office make on Javonte Williams' availability for the start of the 2023 season, this signing could be a sneaky boost to Denver's RB room considering Samaje Perine has only started 11 games in his 6 years in the NFL. While it is clear Payton has confidence in Perine's ability to start for the team, it would not hurt to add more skill and insurance to the position group, especially with the market at a low for the available RBs remaining in free agency.

It is unsure if George Paton and company would be on board with signing a player who has had legal trouble in the past, considering the franchise's values in players who are highly spoken of off the field and stay out of trouble. Also, it may be a bit unrealistic with the salary cap already being invested in the position with Perine earning a $3.75M annual base salary.

Although Hunt may want to seek a better fit with a higher chance of starting or receiving more playing time, if he believes and buys into Payton's offensive philosophy, this could potentially be a sneaky important addition to Denver's offense if the interest is truly existent here. Not to mention, Hunt's high school RBs coach Lou Ayeni, who also coached him one year at Toledo in 2013, is now the new RBs coach in Denver. They reportedly have a strong connection and relationship that can certainly make Denver an appealing landing spot in the coming weeks.

dark. Next. Source: Javonte Williams expected back sooner rather than later