Browns add D'Onta Foreman to crowded running backs room

Mar. 21—The Browns lacked a short-yardage specialist once the new league year began and Kareem Hunt officially became a free agent. Now that void has been filled, and not by Hunt.

The Browns have agreed to terms with 6-foot, 230-pound running back D'Onta Foreman on a one-year contract. Jordan Schultz of Bleacher report was first to report the news. Foreman carried 109 times in nine games with the Bears in 2023. He rushed for 425 yards and scored five touchdowns.

Foreman and Browns quarterback Deshaun Watsom were teammates on the Texans in 2017 and 2018. Foreman played with the Titans in 2020 and 2021 and with the Panthers in 2022, where he had the best season of his career with 914 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 203 carries. He was out of football in 2019 recovering from a biceps injury.

Just two years ago, Nick Chubb and Hunt were the dynamic duo in the Browns' backfield. They were considered one of the best if not the very best running back tandem in the NFL.

Chubb rushed for 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2022. Hunt added 468 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground plus 210 receiving yards and another touchdown through the air. They were at their best in 2020 when Chubb rushed for 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing four games with a knee injury and Hunt rushed for 841 yards and six touchdowns. Hunt added 38 catches for 304 yards and five touchdowns in 2020.

Things change quickly in the NFL. Chubb is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery after suffering a severe injury on Sept. 18 while playing the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Browns expect Chubb to play in 2024, but a target date for his return has not been set.

Hunt is a player without a team. He scored nine rushing touchdowns last season, but signing Foreman is a strong indication they have no plans to bring back the former Willoughby South star.

Foreman turns 28 on April 24. Hunt will turn 29 on Aug. 6. Former Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell, who was fired Jan. 17 along with offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, criticized Hunt's work ethic in a interview with Camryn Justice of WEWS Channel 5.

"The thing that I couldn't do while I was there is get the best out of Kareem," Mitchell said. "If they bring him back, I hope the next coach will be able to get the best out of him. As a coach, all you want to do is to make a player better, but I wasn't able to get him to not be the last guy in meetings, not to be out at practice on time. Kareem is a hell of a player, but this is a team game."

Duce Staley was hired to replace Mitchell. Staley was a running back for 10 years in the NFL. He played for the Eagles from 1997-2003 and for the Steelers from 2004-06. Staley coached the Eagles' running backs from 2013-20, the Lions' running backs in 2021 and 2022 and the Panthers' running backs last season.

Foreman is the second addition to the running backs room this offseason. The Browns signed Nyheim Hines last week soon after free agency began. Hines is expected to earn most of his playing time as a return specialist.

Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong are returning from the 2023 team. Ford rushed for 804 yards and four touchdowns on 213 carries. Strong rushed for 219 yards and one touchdown on 63 carries.