Back in February of 2018, Kansas City Chiefs star running back Kareem Hunt faced allegations of shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel. And just hours after TMZ obtained and published footage of the incident in late November, 2018 – which you can see here – the Chiefs parted ways with Hunt.
In response to this and two other off-field incidents, the league opened investigations into Hunt’s behavior and news of a suspension is expected this offseason. But while the investigation – and forthcoming discipline – is more than justified in this case, we now have some outstanding questions. Like… (1) When will we learn of the suspension? (2) How long will it last? And (3) With which team will he serve it? Fortunately, we’re finally starting to get some answers.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport recently reported that the severity and length of Hunt’s suspension should be known prior to the start of free agency (March 13th), and added that Hunt is expected to return before the end of the season (i.e. it won’t likely be a year-long suspension), which more or less answers our first two questions. But what about that third one? Where will Hunt serve out his suspension and ultimately finish the 2019 season? And are the Bears going to be involved?
While it’s all still a little unclear, Rapoport also reported that several teams have been “keeping tabs,” “touching base,” and “doing homework” on Hunt, which should tell you all you need to know. And remember, as a current free agent, Hunt can actually sign before free agency opens up on March 13th (though I doubt a team would roll the dice before knowing the severity of his suspension).
It’s always tough to estimate the market for a talented, but flawed player like Hunt, but his obvious talent is apparently keeping multiple teams interested. And for what it’s worth, ESPN insider Adam Schefter also cited sources indicating that several teams would consider signing Hunt this offseason, even in light of, well, everything we laid out above.
To put a bow on it: Even though Kareem Hunt is expected to begin the 2019 season on the suspended list for multiple off-field incidents, several teams, perhaps including the Chicago Bears (though that is – at best – unclear at the moment), are apparently considering the star running back.
To that end, you might recall the Bears making headlines when GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy answered Hunt-related questions during last week’s season-in-review press conference. We dove into what was *actually* said by Pace and Nagy at the time, so as to not overreact to any one quote taken in isolation (one way or the other), but couldn’t locate a very obvious Bears’ position. Ultimately, it seems as though the team didn’t dismiss the idea of signing Hunt, but didn’t exactly jump in with both feet, either. We can argue about whether or not that was the right call, but that does appear to be what happened. They middle-grounded us, which, yeah, probably means they wanted to keep that particular door open.
Indeed, Chicago may very well be willing to give Hunt another chance (again: that’s just an assumption), even if it’s only after serious deliberation between the coach, front office, and probably ownership. Both Pace and Nagy made it clear there were non-football things Hunt needed to do before approaching the concept of signing Hunt. And judging by multiple reports from two national reporters with their fingers on the pulse of the league, the Bears won’t be alone.
This is only the beginning of a complicated situation and that the Bears are involved puts us on heightened notice. We will continue to track this as it unfolds.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.