Running back Kareem Hunt is arguably the most talented free agent currently on the market. He’s only 23-years old, he was the 2017 rushing champ, and he has averaged 110 yards from scrimmage in his 27 game career.
With with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017, Hunt’s offensive coordinator was current Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy, and Hunt’s skill set was a perfect match for their (his) scheme and he was selected to the Pro Bowl. He was having an even better year in 2018 with K.C., and that’s where the “football” part of Hunt’s story ends.
Hunt was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list on November 30, 2018, following a video surfacing of him shoving and kicking a woman almost a year ago (February, 2017). The Chiefs released him shortly thereafter for lying about the incident when they were made aware of it.
Many Bears’ fans have expressed an interest in Chicago signing Hunt for the 2019 season after Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace were asked about Hunt at their end of the season press conference. Neither shot down the possibility, so it naturally got fans thinking.
We ran a poll on Twitter to gauge the temperature of our fans.
Since our Facebook audience is much different than our Twitter audience (just trust me on this one), I wanted to run the poll over there too.
The results were surprisingly similar.
Since a lot of you guys that are regular readers of WCG don’t do the social media thing, we wanted to pose the same question here too.
Should the Bears sign Kareem Hunt?
This poll is closed
Signing a player that has struck a woman is a non-starter for many people, but judging by the chatter on social media and sports talk radio, many fans are willing to give Hunt a second chance.
Nagy talked about his belief in giving a player a second chance at the presser, but he also said the team hasn’t had any official discussions about signing Hunt.
Bears Chairman George McCaskey made the media rounds earlier today, and the Kareem Hunt topic again came up. Much like Nagy and Pace, McCaskey didn’t shut the door on the possibility of the Bears signing Hunt once he’s removed from the exempt list, and when asked if the Bears would pursue him he said, “We’re not there yet.”
He also confirmed to the Chicago Tribune that there have been no internal discussions about adding Hunt. “Ryan (Pace) hasn’t said anything to me about Kareem Hunt. And Matt (Nagy) hasn’t said anything to me about Kareem Hunt.”
Hunt started to attend alcohol and anger management counseling in December, and he addressed his issues and apologized in an ESPN interview.
The league office will likely suspend him once he’s off the exempt list, but he’ll need to first prove to them his troubles are in the past.
More McCaskey from the Tribune:
“I think the important thing, as Matt pointed out,” McCaskey said, “is that he addresses his personal situation before worrying about football. I think that’s a demonstration of the kind of guy Matt is. He called him to have a non-football conversation because they had a player-coach relationship. I think that says a lot about Matt. He’s not just interested in these guys as football players. I think that’s one of the reasons the players respond to him so well.”
Nagy knows Hunt very well after coaching him for a year, and his recommendation will no doubt carry a lot of weight.
I gave my thoughts on Hunt signing in Chicago on my T Formation Podcast, but I’ll share the abridged version here.
If it was my call to make, if I were the Chicago Bears’ Chairman, I’m not signing Kareem Hunt. That’s just my personal feelings on the subject. I’m talking a pass on a man that strikes a woman.
However, if the Bears do add him a a free agent, it wont stop me from cheering for my favorite team. I’ve always looked at professional sports as a job. It’s a high paying job, but it’s a job nonetheless. Unless there’s a reason Hunt can’t work (i.e. he’s in jail) then I see no reason why a team can’t hire him. I’d just rather it not be my favorite team, but I have a suspicion it will be.
I asked a few of my colleagues to give me their take on the Bears signing Hunt and I’ll share their responses here.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
This truly is a signing which represents opposite sides of the spectrum.
On one hand, this signing would put the Chicago Bears into a strong position at winning the Super Bowl; Kareem is precisely the type of back Matt Nagy is looking for in his offense. What’s more important, is Matt Nagy has already voiced his support for Hunt on not one, but two different occasions. In his philosophy, his mind, he (likely) believes Hunt deserves a second chance. Ryan Pace seems to have placed his full trust with Nagy, as he too didn’t rule out the possibility of signing Hunt. Mitchell Trubisky, for what it’s worth, has a close relationship with Hunt as well.
On the other hand, this is a public relations disaster that could ruin the Bears before the start of the season. The outrage will be fierce and relentless. The media, in all likelihood, would treat the Bears like the evil empire. Hunt’s actions are completely unacceptable, strictly from my own opinion. Never mind the fact he was caught unleashing violence on his girlfriend/ex/friend/whatever; he straight up lied about his involvement and investigation to the Kansas City Chiefs’ organization. He’s highly likely to be suspended at the start of the season, it’ll take an unprecedented miracle for him to escape the matter unscathed. It doesn’t matter if the charges were dropped, he’ll receive a firm hand from the NFL for the culmination of events.
As it stands, I do not support the idea of signing Kareem Hunt, from both a business and personal perspective. I will concede, though, I am human. I have no right to judge any person based on their life and their actions. There is not a single ounce of divine blood or nobility running in my veins. If Kareem is serious about earning the privilege of signing with the Chicago Bears, then let the man earn that right for himself. He’s been attending anger management classes, he’s been seeking help from numerous people. And, unlike a certain Kicker who resides in Chicago, he’s not playing the victim nor making a media tour about himself.
It’s a good possibility that a team will sign Hunt despite his baggage, and I see the Bears as a major player in that sweepstakes. I definitely do not like this idea whatsoever. However, I must place my emotions to the side, and think about everyone else’s perspective. If the entire franchise gets behind him, if Hunt proves that he can (somehow) be trusted again, and if he balls out; I will support him just like anyone else who plays for the Chicago Bears. This signing would by far be the biggest risk Ryan Pace has ever taken in his career, and this is an even bigger risk for Matt Nagy and his career. All I can and will do, is sit back, and watch what happens.
Robert, who is also the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times, give us thoughts on the subject there in his article titled’ Kareem Hunt Is A Perfect Football Fit. The Bears Still Shouldn’t Acquire Him.
I have a hard time with the idea the team of Walter Payton might also become the team of Kareem Hunt. I don’t want to see the legacies of those two mingled. I don’t want to get into it more than that, except to say that I think Robert’s exploration of the issue is thoughtful and thorough.
I think everyone knows my stance on it by now, but I’ll offer up the Cliffs Notes. Basically, Kareem Hunt isn’t Zeke Elliot or Saquon Barkley. He’s just a back that fits that system well, similarly to how Jordan Howard fit the Fox/Gase/Loggains system well. He’s well rounded, meaning he’s pretty good at about everything, but not GREAT at anything. Backs like that can be found on day 2 or 3 of the draft (Hunt was drafted in the 3rd round himself). So why bring in Hunt, and the baggage that comes with him, when you can find someone who can do the same things in this offense in the 3rd or 4th round?
Obviously the draft is something of a gamble, but Pace has a pretty good track record in the middle rounds. That’s why I never got the push to bring him in. Kareem Hunt wasn’t some kind of steal in the 3rd. That’s just where guys like him go. Let Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy continue to build through the draft, find their own guy, benefit from the rookie contract, and avoid the controversy that this team doesn’t need or want.
Hunt fits the offense to a T, but he’s not a “star” RB so much as he’s a “really good system RB.” It’s frankly why I think there won’t be too much of a market for him. He obviously doesn’t fit in a smash scheme and he’s not fast enough for a pure speed scheme so he’s only going to succeed in a West Coast Offense. He’s a walking PR nightmare that would make our team the villain in the eyes of the press. I, personally, don’t want that and would rather find an equivalent back in the draft and get all 4 years of cheap production. It only bolsters that argument that our current draft picks are right in the strike zone for quality running backs.
There are a lot of really, really good backs that we can draft that come without the baggage Hunt has.
Hunt may be a great player, but the running back position is one where there are many options out there.
I’m going to take a hard pass on Hunt.
I’d rather not sign Kareem Hunt. I know myself well enough not to make any proclamation that I wouldn’t root for the team anymore, but I’d be very upset. There’s similar, if not better talent available if the team is able to scout it properly. I get the whole second chances thing and his previous relationship with Nagy but it’s just not worth it to me. I think that Ryan Pace and George McCaskey should’ve learned from the Ray McDonald signing. It only takes one slip up to be wearing egg on their faces. I’d like to see more proof that Hunt’s rehabilitated himself than just completing some courses and saying he’s moved on or bettered himself.
Sitting out games and talking isn’t enough. Talk about maturity or ‘mistakes’ all you want, but the fact is that plenty of players go out and get drunk or party or whatever and don’t end up assaulting people. There’s serious issues there that go beyond just ‘one night, one mistake.’ Pace and Nagy should know that the player they see in the facility during the day might not be the same person that’s out at the club or in the hotel at 4 a.m.
This locker room has been built on guys that are obsessed, right? Is Hunt really obsessed? Can you really imagine hearing that Trubisky or Cohen or Mack were at a hotel in the middle of the night, drunk and arguing with someone? It seems improbable, given what we know and what we’ve seen. We can’t say the same for Hunt.
Our staffers that chimed in are unanimous in not wanting the Bears to sign Kareem Hunt, but now it’s your turn. Be sure to vote in the poll, and also leave your thoughts in the comment section.
Just keep in mind our community guidelines when commenting. You guys can disagree with each other all you want, just don’t go about it like an asshole.