Kareem Hunt’s Visit with the Vikings Comes at a Curious Time Ahead of the 2023 Season


Veteran RB
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) takes the field before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland, Ohio.

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This offseason, there has been much ado with the Vikings running back room.

First, Minnesota surprisingly brought back Alexander Mattison on a new two-year contract. Then, the Vikings drafted DeWayne McBride in the seventh-round of the 2023 NFL Draft. With the writing on the wall regarding Dalvin Cook’s departure, the team finally parted ways with the veteran back in June.

It seemed like the dust had finally settled in Minnesota’s RB room, but nope. On Friday, the Vikings visited with free agent RB Kareem Hunt. His visit with the Vikings comes at a curious time, considering Minnesota had finished their first preseason game less than 24 hours prior.

Kareem Hunt
Nov 27, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) runs with the ball during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

That preseason game saw Ty Chandler and recent free agent signing Abram Smith get the bulk of the workload out of the backfield. Chandler totaled 15 touches and 70 yards from scrimmage over the course of the game while Smith carried seven times for 18 yards.

Meanwhile, Kene Nwangwu left the game early with an apparent injury, and DeWayne McBride underwhelmed in his debut, totaling six carries for 15 yards. He also took over the kick return duties with Nwangwu out, but he averaged just 16.7 yards per return on three chances.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks linebacker Levi Bell (98) tackles Minnesota Vikings running back DeWayne McBride (37) during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

With Nwangwu getting virtually no action, and McBride’s less than stellar performace, it is hard not to assume that Hunt’s visit comes as a direct result.

Hunt burst onto the scene during his rookie season of 2017, leading the league in rushing yards with 1327 and adding 8 TDs. He was named to the Pro Bowl as a result. Since then, Hunt has never quite gotten back to that 2017 form, but he has totaled 4025 rushing yards and 31 TDs over his first six seasons in the league.

Nov 20, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) during pre-game warmups before their game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, Hunt has been the backup to Nick Chubb with the Browns. He totaled 829 rushing yards in his first full season with the team in 2020, but he didn’t surpass 500 yards rushing in either 2021 or 2022.

The intriguing part of Hunt’s game is as a receiver. He has recorded 20+ receptions in each of his first six seasons, and he has 17 career receiving TDs as a result. McBride has never been much of a receiver at the position (totaling just five receptions over three seasons at UAB), and Nwangwu is a return specialist going back to his days at Iowa State.

The Vikings may have lost some faith in their RB depth after this first preseason game, so if either Mattison or Chandler were to go down with an injury (remember, Chandler spent time on IR last year with a broken thumb), who would step up as RB2? Perhaps Minnesota wants to keep their options open, and their visit with Hunt suggests that.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.





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