CLEVELAND — The waiting game is over for the Cleveland Browns and running back Kareem Hunt.
After months of investigating, the NFL announced Friday morning that Hunt will serve an eight-game suspension without pay for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy, a ban resulting from an assault on a woman at The 9 Hotel in Downtown Cleveland in February of 2018.
Reaction poured in on social media after the suspension was confirmed, and it ranged from relief at finally knowing the ban to the belief that it gives the Browns a healthy running back for a potential playoff push during the stretch run of the regular season.
Some were grateful that versatile running back Duke Johnson Jr. has yet to be traded, as well as the presence of second-year standout Nick Chubb.
Hunt’s suspension could mean Johnson Jr. will remain the complementary ball carrier to Chubb, who rushed for 996 yards and eight touchdowns with 11 20-yard runs, a record 92-yard scoring rush against the Atlanta Falcons on November 11 and 47 first downs.
Others looked at the business side of the suspension.
The eight-game ban will cost Hunt more than $500,000 and a chance at unrestricted free agency next offseason. Instead, Hunt will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Browns will have a chance to match any offer he receives by testing the open market.
In two years with the Chiefs, Hunt rushed for 2,151 yards and 15 touchdowns with 106 first downs, 19 plays going for at least 20 yards and four 40-yard gains. Additionally, Hunt caught 79 passes out of the backfield for 833 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a single-season career high seven in 2018.
As a rookie, Hunt went from not expected to have a large role in the offense to rushing for an NFL-best 1,327 yards on 272 carries, an average of 4.9 yards per attempt, which earned him a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl team.
Despite the proven track record of success, there are fans who feel Hunt should not have gotten a second chance in the NFL.