Each NFL front office outside of Kansas City had less than 72 hours to have a conversation about whether to put in a waiver claim on Kareem Hunt.
Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, was released after TMZ released a video on Friday of him shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel back in February. As a player with less than four years in the NFL, Hunt had to pass through waivers before becoming a free agent. Any team could claim him.
However, Hunt went unclaimed before the 4 p.m. Eastern deadline on Monday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The former Chiefs back becomes a free agent, though he was put on the commissioner exempt list — Lindsay Jones of The Athletic explained he will technically not be on that list if he clears waivers, but will go back on it if he’s signed before any suspension is announced. Hunt is unable to play or practice with a team as long as he’s on the commissioner exempt list and it’s hard to imagine he’d be eligible to play at any point over the rest of this season.
NFL running back Kareem Hunt
NFL running back Kareem Hunt
Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) carries the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
NFL football player Kareem Hunt, of the Kansas City Chiefs arrives at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2018 file photo Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) celebrates his touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars with quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo. The Cincinnati Bengals bring one of the NFL’s worst defenses to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018 to face the Chiefs. They also bring an ailing defense, and that should only make it tougher to slow down Patrick Mahomes and Co. The Bengals are coming off a loss to Pittsburgh while Kansas City lost for the first time last week in New England (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt walks to the practice field during NFL football training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) celebrates with fans after an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Toledo running back Kareem Hunt reacts after a 32-27 loss to Northern Illinois in an NCAA college football game Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Kansas City Chiefs' Kareem Hunt catches a touchdown pass during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) carries the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kareem Hunt during the Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (Michael Ainsworth/AP Images for Head & Shoulders)
Toledo head coach Matt Campbell, right, talks with running back Kareem Hunt after a 38-7 win over Kent State in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2017, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, right, runs for a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half of an NFL football game in Carson, Calif. Hunt was the AFC offensive player of the month after he led the league with 401 yards rushing, caught nine passes for 137 yards and reached the end zone five times. The Chiefs face the Washington Redskins this week. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Toledo Rockets running back Kareem Hunt (3) runs with the ball in the third quarter of a 49-24 loss to the Missouri Tigers in an NCAA college football game in Toledo, Ohio, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) eludes New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) as he crosses the goal line for a touchdown after catching a pass from Alex Smith during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) eludes New England Patriots defensive end Cassius Marsh (55) as he runs for a touchdown after catching a pass from Alex Smith during the second half of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass. Of 266 rookies on active rosters in Week 1, 33 started and 13 more played at least half the snaps. Linebackers and running backs led the way with a combined total of 15 guys, including Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette and T.J. Watt. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
North squad running back Kareem Hunt of Toledo (33) carries the ball during the second half of the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Toledo running back Kareem Hunt celebrates his 6-yard rushing touchdown against Northern Illinois during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
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Kareem Hunt had to go through waivers
The thought of a player as talented as Hunt, in just his second season, being on waivers would have seemed crazy before last Friday.
But after TMZ released the video and the Chiefs cut Hunt, saying he had lied to them about what happened that night in Cleveland back in February, Hunt was available to any team in the league. The claiming order goes by reverse order of record. Teams would take on Hunt’s contract, which is cheap as a 2017 third-round pick. In terms of just football, grabbing Hunt would be a boon for any team.
Of course, this wasn’t just about football. A week earlier, the Washington Redskins were criticized heavily for claiming linebacker Reuben Foster after the San Francisco 49ers cut him following an arrest on an accusation of domestic violence. Hunt was probably an even larger story, in part because his incident was on video for everyone to see. Teams had to factor in the backlash toward the Redskins over Foster when they discussed whether to claim Hunt.
Any team that thought about claiming Hunt, who just turned 23 in August and was on a four-year, $3.3 million contract, also had to wonder if the outcry would be worth it.
Hunt ‘disappointed and embarrassed’
Hunt started trying to rehabilitate his image right away. He told ESPN in an interview that aired on Sunday morning that he was “disappointed and embarrassed” by what he did. He said he was sorry.
Apparently that wasn’t enough for a team to take a chance on him. Hunt will likely get a second chance at some point, but it might take a while. Perhaps it won’t happen until the NFL decides what punishment Hunt will get.
Whatever the reason, teams didn’t feel comfortable enough claiming Hunt just a few days after the TMZ video made Hunt infamous in NFL circles.