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Report: Arizona Cardinals Interested in Former Rushing Yards Leader

Arizona Cardinals Interested in Former Rushing Yards Leader: Kareem Hunt is on the Cardinals' radar per report from PHNX podcast.
Cardinals Kareem Hunt

The Arizona Cardinals are interested in former rushing yards Leader, Kareem Hunt. Hunt, who spent the 2022 season with the Cleveland Browns, is currently a free agent. He would be a good fit for the Cardinals.

Speaking on the PHNX podcast, Johnny Venerable said:

“They like him. If conversations haven’t happened yet, I think they will happen in terms of just reaching out and just getting a feeler.”

“Now does that mean you’re going to sign Kareem Hunt to a two or three-year deal and mirror the James Conner deal? No.”

“Kareem Hunt’s getting a one-year contract.”

It appears that, while the Cardinals have interest in Hunt, it is far from concrete. The main connection that Hunt has to Arizona is that new Cardinals offensive coordinator, Drew Petzing, was formerly the quarterbacks coach of the Browns. He is expected to implement a version of the Cleveland offense in Arizona.

Hunt has had an eventful NFL career to date. The 27-year-old was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he led the league in rushing yards and was named to the Pro Bowl.

Despite his blistering start in the NFL, the Chiefs released Hunt the following season after a video surfaced of him physically assaulting a woman. Hunt was never charged with any crime, but ended up missing half of the 2018 season. In the subsequent off-season, the Browns signed Chubb but he was suspended for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

After a few quiet seasons with the Browns, Hunt requested a trade in August of 2022. Nothing came to fruition. He finished the year with 468 rushing yards, 210 receiving yards and four total touchdowns.

Arizona Cardinals Need Running Back Depth

As it stands, the Cardinals running back room consists of James Conner, Corey Clement and Keaontay Ingram. The team also signed UDFA Emari Demercado but missed out on Keaton Mitchell, who elected to go to the Baltimore Ravens.

Conner was the team’s primary back in 2022. Injuries impacted his production but he still managed 782 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. In 2021, Conner made the Pro Bowl after scoring a whopping 18 touchdowns.

While Conner has proved enough to be RB1, he needs a partner. He was most effective when the team had Chase Edmonds to complement him in 2021. As a tall, physical running back, Conner would benefit from someone like Hunt, who has natural hands and explosive speed.

It is also worth noting that Conner is approaching 30 and has a history of injuries. Both of those things suggest that the team needs a long-term solution in the backfield and that, to keep Conner fresh, they ought to invest in another running back to take the load off.

Behind Conner, there is little hierarchy. Ingram was a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and flashed at times last season. However, he lost the backup job to Clement by the end of the season.

Clement, meanwhile, is 28. He has never really found his feet in the NFL and it would be risky to entrust him with too much of the workload. The same should be said about Demercado, the UDFA out of TCU.

As such, it is clear there is no established depth behind Conner currently. Hunt, who was frustrated with his usage in Cleveland, would have a far more defined role in Arizona. He would thus be given the opportunity to parlay any short-term deal into something with a bit more long-term security.

Arizona Cardinals Are Scheme Fit For Kareem Hunt

Not only do the Cardinals make sense from a depth chart perspective, they also make sense from a scheme perspective. As mentioned, Petzing’s implementation of the Cleveland offense means that Hunt would already be an asset, having spent time in the Cleveland offense with Petzing.

There is also the expectation that Petzing’s adaptation of Cleveland’s offense will include a variation on Kyle Shanahan’s third-down shotgun formation. In this offense, the San Francisco 49ers have a tendency to use the running back on wheels, angles and swings (among other routes). Hunt, being a proficient receiving back, suits this change-of-pace role excellently.

Main Photo: Albert Cesare-USA TODAY Sports


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