Somewhat inexplicably, veteran running back Kareem Hunt remains a free agent as the calendar turns to September and the NFL regular season looms.
While Hunt is coming off one of his least productive seasons, averaging a career-low 3.8 yards per carry with just three touchdowns in his final season with the Cleveland Browns, the 27-year-old still offers plenty of value as veteran depth with starter upside.
The domestic violence allegations against Hunt and the fact that the Browns seemed to believe that he had lost a step following several nagging injuries in recent years could be limiting his market.
Still, according to Pro Football Focus, Hunt still logged 14 explosive runs while rushing for 468 yards with three touchdowns and forcing 22 missed tackles on his 123 carries. Even in an era where running backs have never been valued less, the position still carries some significant injury risk, especially for backs asked to shoulder a significant workload.
Whether it is sometime in the coming days, or following Week 1 when contracts are no longer fully guaranteed for the entire season — and perhaps after a team suffers an injury at running back — Hunt will likely wind up playing somewhere in 2023. Here's a look at Hunt's four best fits.
The Dolphins lost out on the Dalvin Cook sweepstakes to the division rival New York Jets, and still are in relatively desperate need for veteran running back help. Especially given the fact that Miami enters the 2023 season with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations built around their explosiveness and versatility on offense.
With Jeff Wilson on injured reserve just as Devon Achane, and Salvon Ahmed battle through injuries with Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers looming, the veteran stability Hunt provides could be exactly what the Dolphins need to add some depth to the backfield.
Given that Miami made a run at Cook and tried to pry Jonathan Taylor away from the Indianapolis Colts, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see general manager Chris Grier try to sign Hunt sometime in the first two weeks of the season.
During training camp Hunt visited the Indianapolis Colts, but left town without an offer. That was before the relationship between the Colts and Taylor devolved to new lows, exasperating the need for running back help going into the season.
While Hunt is coming off a down statistical season, his versatility as a pass-catcher out of the backfield — having caught 35 of his 41 targets in 2022 for 210 yards and a touchdown, and his dominance in pass protection could make him an ideal fit alongside rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson in the backfield.
There is a very real possibility that the only healthy backs on the Colts' roster for the opener are Deon Jackson and fifth-round rookie Evan Hull, which could create some urgency for Indianapolis to revisit Hunt in the coming days.
The Bengals don't have very many holes on a roster that seems primed to make another legitimate run at the Super Bowl, but running back is an area general manager Duke Tobin could look to shore up prior to the season-opener.
Joe Mixon remains Cincinnati's bell-cow, but pairing him with Hunt could really throw open head coach Zac Taylor's playbook by creating all kinds of two-back optionality. Given how frequently Joe Burrow and the Bengals' offense pushes the ball vertically, both Mixon and Hunt would benefit from the space created by deep-threats Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, while also forcing defensive coordinators to game-plan for both backs as potential targets out of the backfield.
Rookie Deuce Vaughn was one of the most pleasant surprises of the NFL preseason, and he just might be the Cowboys' future if Tony Pollard moves on after the 2023 campaign. However, if the Cowboys are serious about contending in 2022, adding backfield depth remains a priority.
After letting Ezekiel Elliott walk, the Cowboys could use a short-yardage and goal-line battering ram. Hunt could fill that void, while also serving as an experienced insurance policy should Pollard miss any time due to lingering injuries. With a similar running style to Elliot, with his upside as a receiving option for quarterback Dak Prescott, Hunt makes a fascinating option for the Cowboys.
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.