Cynically, it was surprising no NFL team claimed Kareem Hunt off waivers. Because a team is going to give him a second chance at some point, probably soon.
No matter that Hunt was seen on camera shoving and kicking a woman last year, then was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs. He led the NFL in rushing yards in 2017, and he’s 23 years old. We can debate whether it’s right or wrong, but we all know it’s incredibly likely he’ll get signed.
Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy, who was the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs when Hunt was NFL rushing champion, didn’t avoid the topic of Hunt when he was asked on Monday. In fact, he said he spoke to Hunt about a week ago.
Matt Nagy has praise for Kareem Hunt
Nagy said he just wanted to check in with Hunt to see how he’s doing off the field when he spoke to him.
Maybe Nagy does care simply about Hunt as a person and has no interest in signing him. But it also is hard to believe Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace haven’t at least considered it.
The reporters at the season-ending press conference for Pace and Nagy noted that they didn’t exactly say no to the possibility of signing Hunt.
“There were no issues at all,” Nagy said, via Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. “He was a really, really good kid. He came to work every day. He wasn’t late to meetings, any of that. … It’s a learning lesson. That’s the biggest thing, making sure he understood that when I talked to him.”
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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Bears would have to weigh whether to sign Hunt
The Bears have probably run through what would happen if they signed Hunt.
They’d be criticized. But that usually passes; think of all the players around the NFL who are on their second chance and how often their off-field issues come up. It’s rare. Then the Bears would have an elite running back, presumably at a bargain contract as Hunt tries to rehabilitate his image. Football-wise, every team has done that math in their heads. There’s no denying Hunt would make the Bears a better team.
The Bears probably won’t be the only team that tries to sign Hunt, whenever that might be. Nagy didn’t sound opposed to the idea, and it’s probable that his recent phone call to Hunt wasn’t his last.