The Steelers would be foolish to trade for Browns RB Kareem Hunt

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Browns received a trade request for their backup running back, but the Steelers should avoid inquiring about a deal here.

With new contract talks seemingly stalling, Browns running back Kareem Hunt has requested to be traded. While not a blow for a team that also employs Nick Chubb, Hunt was likely set to have an increased role on the team given the quarterback uncertainty. Now the odds point to him not being there once the season begins.

I can’t fault Hunt for this. Despite flashing the ability to be a workhorse back, he has played second fiddle to Chubb. While both can proverbially eat in Cleveland’s system, Hunt wants to still be paid like the talent he is. Sure, the Browns gave him the second chance he needed after his domestic abuse issues, but his timeline to make money is short in the NFL, and he understandably wants to capitalize this season.

The Steelers, meanwhile, have a major need at their running back position. While Najee Harris is a star in the making, the team has next to nothing behind him. With the running game being the focus of the offense this year, an injury to Harris will likely cripple this group.

Should the Steelers trade for Hunt?

On paper, the Browns and Steelers would be natural trade partners with each other given the player and the team’s needs. Digging deeper though, a partnership here seems unlikely. For starters, with both teams being division rivals, the odds of a trade getting hammered out seem unlikely. Sure, occasionally divisional teams do make trades (Chris Wormley is evidence of that), but it isn’t often.

Next comes the actual requirements for a trade. While running backs aren’t overly valuable, the Browns would probably want at least an early day three pick for Hunt. If that trade is coming from the Steelers, they may even require the team’s third-round pick. It isn’t like Hunt won’t have any interest around the league either, so the Steelers wouldn’t be likely to get a good deal in a trade like this.

Finally, if/when Hunt gets dealt, he is expecting a new contract to come out of it. That means the Steelers wouldn’t only be giving away a valuable pick, but they would also have to hand out a new deal and pay good money for a running back who will be viewed as a backup. All around, this deal would make little sense.

The Steelers need a better backup

There is no question that the Steelers do need to get a better backup running back. Hunt would, on paper, fill that need, but the details to get him are messy. Instead, the team can target a quality free agent back now or after cutdowns occur. If they did pursue a trade, they should be going after more traditional backup types, not a player of Hunt’s caliber.

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If the Steelers could give up a late-round pick and not have to pay Hunt more than their starter in Harris, this deal would have merit. That won’t be the case though. While the idea of Hunt and Harris being in the backfield together is appealing, don’t expect to see a trade that brings Hunt to the Steelers ultimately happen.