Panthers Could Sign Free Agent RB Kareem Hunt?

Kareem Hunt, Panthers
NFL Analysis Network

The Carolina Panthers’ biggest move this offseason was making a trade with the Chicago Bears to acquire the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. With that selection, they picked Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Ownership is hoping Young turns into the franchise quarterback they have sought for years.

It will take some time for him to reach his potential. He has a great coaching staff headed by former quarterback Frank Reich as head coach that should help him develop. The quickest way for Young to develop, along with coaching, is to surround him with as much talent as possible.

To complete the trade with Chicago, Carolina did include wide receiver D.J. Moore, who has been their No. 1 target for years. Adam Thielen and DJ Chark were signed in free agency in addition to selecting Jonathan Mingo in the second round.

In free agency, the Panthers also made a splash by signing running back Miles Sanders away from the Philadelphia Eagles. Sanders is coming off the best season of his career, earning a Pro Bowl nod which he turned into a solid contract with Carolina.

Sanders will help replace D’Onta Foreman, who signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Bears. He will join holdover Chuba Hubbard in the backfield. But, the team may not be done reshaping the backfield.

The Panthers have been named as a potential landing spot for free agent running back Kareem Hunt. Hunt’s market has been ice-cold this offseason after a disappointing 2022 campaign with the Cleveland Browns

He set a career-low in rushing yards per carry and had the least productive season of his career in which he didn’t miss games. But, Aaron Becker of YardBarker believes Carolina could end up being where Hunt lands this offseason.

Becker believes that the Panthers will have a run-first approach under Reich, which is likely with a rookie quarterback expected to be under center at some point. Without a true No. 1 option in the passing game, it makes even more sense for Carolina to lean into their running game, at least early one.

While Hunt’s performance in 2022 wasn’t strong, he has shown that he can be very productive. A change of scenery could help him re-find his groove as he was stuck behind Nick Chubb on the depth chart in Cleveland. 

While Sanders was signed to a nice deal in free agency, the path to playing time is much clearer in Carolina than it was the last few years in Cleveland. A one-year prove-it deal could be beneficial for both parties.

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