The Browns will be the latest team searching for running back help.
Cleveland star RB Nick Chubb suffered a serious left knee injury on “Monday Night Football.” He was carted off the field and did not return to the game.
Chubb has been one of the best running backs in the NFL since he was drafted by the Browns in 2018. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards in four of his five seasons in the league and was coming off of a career year in 2022, rushing for 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Cleveland doesn’t have much RB depth behind Chubb and will likely look for answers elsewhere if the injury is as bad as it appeared. While Jerome Ford performed admirably in Chubb’s absence, the Browns’ heavy rush and play-action offensive attack could use a warm body or two while Chubb is sidelined.
Who could the Browns consider as Chubb’s potential injury placement? The Sporting News has you covered with a few options below:
Cam Akers, Rams
Akers has recently been made available for trade by the Rams after the 24-year-old RB was listed as a healthy inactive ahead of Los Angeles’ Week 2 matchup against the 49ers.
Akers and head coach Sean McVay have had a tumultuous relationship. This is the second time the Florida State product has been benched, with the first coming just last season. After McVay’s decision, Akers took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to express his confusion about the situation.
Akers rushed for a touchdown in the Rams’ Week 1 win over the Seahawks, but he only had 29 yards on 22 carries. He could still serve as a solid replacement option in a new situation for an RB-needy team, rushing for 786 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022.
Jonathan Taylor, Colts
By now, you probably know the Taylor situation. The Colts star RB demanded a trade this offseason after he and the front office couldn’t agree on a new contract. He stepped away from the team as the Colts searched for a trade partner but when nothing materialized ahead of the season, he was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with back and ankle injuries.
As a result, Taylor will be inactive through the first four weeks of the season but the 2021 rushing leader is expected to make his return as soon as he is eligible in Week 5.
When healthy, Taylor is one of the best running backs in the NFL. He rushed for a league-best 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns two seasons ago before injuries complicated his 2022 season.
While he has been linked to the Dolphins since the inception of his trade demand, perhaps the Browns could get in the mix now that their star RB is injured.
Kareem Hunt, free agent
Hunt played his last four seasons in Cleveland but the Browns declined to re-sign their backup running back this offseason. He went unsigned by any franchise and remains a free agent.
The 28-year-old rushed for fewer than 500 yards and received for fewer than 250 yards in each of his last two seasons, but snaps weren’t always there as the clear spell back behind Chubb. Even though he is clearly past his prime, maybe Hunt still has something left in the tank as a former dynamic pass-catching RB.
Given his familiarity with the organization and the playbook, don’t be surprised if the Browns consider Hunt as Chubb’s temporary replacement.
Leonard Fournette, free agent
Another RB that could be worth checking in on is Fournette. The 28-year-old wasn’t re-signed by the Buccaneers this offseason and he is still available as a free agent.
Fournette comes with an injury history, but he runs hard in between the tackles. He rushed for 812 yards and eight TDs in 2021, but only rushed for 668 yards and three touchdowns last season.
There is no doubt that his best days are behind him, but the Browns could look to the veteran RB to eat up some carries with an inexperienced backfield following Chubb’s expected absence.