The Cleveland Browns have had one of the best running games in the NFL the last few seasons. It could get even stronger now that they have Deshaun Watson under center, as opponents will not find as much success stacking the box and daring them to throw the ball. However, things in the AFC North will not be easy, as the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals are primed for another run as well.
Cleveland has done a great job building depth in the backfield as well. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are one of the best duos in the league, but the depth chart goes even deeper than that. D’Ernest Johnson has stepped up every time he has been called upon and they used a fifth-round pick, No. 156 overall, on Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford.
Seeing how much draft capital they sent to the Houston Texans for Watson, the Browns could look to deal from a position of strength and recoup some of the picks. That could mean trading one of their running backs, as holding into four could be difficult.
Over at Bleacher Report, they put together a piece of seven trades that should still happen around the league before the regular season kicks off in September. One of the suggested trades was the Browns trading Hunt to their AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals.
In this hypothetical trade, the Bengals are receiving Hunt in exchange for a 2023 third and fifth-round pick. Trading within the division is always tough, but this is a solid deal for both teams.
From the Browns’ perspective, they know that they have great depth at the running back position. With Hunt in the final season of his contract, they could exact some value in a trade instead of hoping for compensatory picks down the road.
Cleveland should be more than okay with Chubb, Johnson and Ford as their running backs for the 2022 season. They would likely rather not face Hunt twice a season, but the Bengals make sense as a landing spot for him.
Joe Mixon has excelled as an every-down back, but the Bengals are lacking depth behind him. Semaje Perine was ho-hum as Mixon’s backup last season and Cincinnati may be interested in upgrading from him.
Hunt would present a sizable upgrade with his 74.4 PFF grade last season. Perine registered a PFF grade of only 62.2. Despite playing in only eight games, compared to 16 for Perine, their production was on par with each other.
Scaling back Mixon’s role with a capable backup should keep him healthier and fresher throughout the season. After making a run to the Super Bowl this past season, acquiring Hunt will make an already dangerous offense that much tougher to slow down.