Monday, February 11, 2019

Another Dorsey gamble

Is there no end to John Dorsey’s penchant for gambling on the job? Apparently not after Monday’s thunder-bolt announcement that running back Kareem Hunt is now a member of the Browns.

The announcement stunned just about everyone on the National Football League landscape and perpetuated the notion that Dorsey, who drafted Hunt while general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017, is fearless when it comes to signing players with off-the-field problems.

He did so in Kansas City with Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill and a few lesser lights, and in Cleveland last season with wide receiver Antonio Callaway. Hill has gone on to become one of the most dangerous receivers and return men in the NFL.

One could also argue Dorsey’s biggest gamble with the Browns so far was the selection of Baker Mayfield with the first overall choice in the last college football draft.

Mayfield emerged from college with a spotty reputation. His arrest for public intoxication and taunting antics while at Oklahoma turned off a lot of people, especially fans of Ohio State. But that has kind of turned out all right.

Hunt, who became a sensation as a rookie with the Chiefs in 2017, saw his budding career suddenly placed in jeopardy after being suspended by the NFL following the revelation he assaulted a woman in Cleveland a year ago.

He became a free agent immediately after the Chiefs abruptly cut him in late November last season (for lying about the Cleveland incident) and was placed on the exempt list by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

It is also being reported that Hunt was involved in two other non-football related altercations at a resort in Put-In-Bay Island and another at a Kansas City nightclub. The NFL Network is also reporting Hunt is undergoing alcohol and anger-management counseling. 

It is not known how long the league’s investigation into these matters will take or when a definitive decision will be rendered.

Rumors were rife at the conclusion of last season that Hunt, a native of Willoughby, would be a prime target in the offseason despite his obvious problems and suspended status. But it was Dorsey who stepped up and beat his adversaries to the punch.

“My relationship and interaction with Kareem since 2016 in college was an important part of this decision-making process,, but we then did extensive due diligence with many individuals, including clinical professionals, to have a better understanding of the person he is today and whether it was prudent to sign him,” he said in a prepared statement.

Two important factors, the GM said, were Hunt taking “full responsibility for his egregious actions and showing true remorse” and pointing out he is ”undergoing and committed to the necessary professional treatment and a plan that has been clearly laid out.”

The 23-yearold Hunt in a statement called himself “a work in progress as a person, but I’m committed to the support systems I have in place to become the best and healthier version of myself.”

Hunt, who has rushed for 2,151 yards, caught 79 passes for 833 yards and scored 25 touchdowns in 27 career games, signed a one-year contract with the Browns worth $1 million, according to the NFL Network. He would be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019 season.

It is clearly a gamble worth taking. It will also be interesting to see how long the Browns stick with Hunt considering the time they invested in Josh Gordon before finally giving up and trading him to New England last season.

The difference was Gordon was a serial offender of the league’s substance-abuse policy and served suspensions that have robbed him of most of his career.

It is also clear the NFL will not react casually in this matter even though this is Hunt’s first offense of the policy. With a trio of charges pending, it will be interesting to see which one of the three stages the league assigns him. It is entirely possible the league will suspend him for at least six games and as many as 12.

For the time being, Hunt’s place on the roster should not have an effect on Dorsey’s and head coach Freddie Kitchens’ plans for the 2019 season. That’s assuming Hunt will miss at least half the season.

Speculation is bound to suggest the GM will try to move versatile running back Duke Johnson Jr. to make room for Hunt. It would be foolish to do so, pending Goodell’s verdict in the Hunt case.

Using a three-headed monster at running back seems to work for the New England Patriots with Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and James White. Why not the Browns with Nick Chubb, Hunt and Johnson?

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