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Saturday May 15th, 2021 1:13AM

Home run: Browns sign RB Kareem Hunt to 2-year extension

By The Associated Press
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Kareem Hunt has found a home — at home.

Suspended last season by the NFL for two physical off-field altercations, Hunt signed a two-year, $13.25 million contract extension with the Cleveland Browns, who took a chance on the running back and are now committing to him long term.

Hunt, who served his eight-game suspension after joining Cleveland as a free agent following his release from Kansas City, signed the deal Tuesday. It includes $8.5 million guaranteed.

Hunt grew up in the Cleveland area and conveyed his appreciation in getting the extension with an Instagram posting.

“Cleveland has always been home to me, and putting on the Orange & Brown has been THE dream growing up," Hunt wrote. “Being able to make it official, and play my heart out for the city I love for the next few years is a blessing.”

Hunt thanked Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, general manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski “for continuing to believe in me through the process, and as an integral part in the offensive scheme.”

Hunt will start the 2020 season as Cleveland's No. 2 running back behind Pro Bowler Nick Chubb. But the Browns are expected to use the 25-year-old Hunt in a variety of ways because of his pass-catching ability and could play him at wide receiver.

“Kareem Hunt is a core component of our offense. He has been a great teammate, outstanding worker, and steadfast in his desire to have success in his hometown for the long term,” Berry said.

Cleveland realized it was taking a risk when it signed Hunt last year after he had been suspended by the league for two violent off-field altercations, one in which he shoved and kicked a woman while he played for Kansas City.

After debuting with the Browns last season, he rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns and caught 37 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown over the final eight games.

A third-round pick from Toledo by Kansas City in 2017, Hunt has rushed for 2,330 yards on 496 attempts (4.7 average), caught 116 passes for 1,118 yards and scored 28 touchdowns in three seasons.

The Browns retained him as a restricted free agent this winter, even after he was pulled over for speeding by police, who found a small amount of marijuana in his car.

“Personal growth is often times non-linear but Kareem has remained committed to becoming the best version of himself and we are proud of the redemptive strides he has taken," Berry said. "He understands the opportunity he has in front of him — provided he maintains his current personal trajectory — and we look forward to the contributions he will continue to make to our team.”

Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie with the Chiefs in 2017 when he gained 1,327 yards. He was thought to be part of Kansas City's long-term plans, but the team parted ways with him after he wasn't honest with them following an incident while he was in Cleveland.

Hunt was seen on videotape shoving and pushing a woman during an argument in the hallway of a Cleveland hotel. He wasn't charged by police, but the altercation damaged his reputation, led to his league ban and threatened his career.

He's taken the right steps since being home, and the Browns are counting on that to continue.

___

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