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Browns owner on Kareem Hunt: 'He's got to do better'

The Browns took a risk when they signed disgraced running back Kareem Hunt last offseason, and it produced positive results in the eight games in which he was able to play in 2019.

The first year of the new decade didn't start off as well for Hunt, though, as he was cited for speeding and police confiscated "small amounts of marijuana" from Hunt's car in late January. A year of positive progress took a step back with the run-in with law enforcement, prompting new concerns about the running back's ability to stay out of trouble.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam addressed Hunt's latest issue Wednesday.

"It's not good. Kareem knows he's got to do better," Haslam said. "Kevin and (new GM) Andrew (Berry) have talked to him about it and I'll just leave it at that. What he did is not acceptable. He's got to do better."

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski also spoke Wednesday and echoed Haslam's sentiments.

"I believe in second chances, sure, but I think we'll be very smart about the people we identify out there that we want to bring into this building," Stefanski said. "I think Andrew mentioned smart, tough, accountable. There are different case studies, obviously, but we'll be diligent keeping it to a group that we're proud that they're in this building, that they're representing the Cleveland Browns.

"I think certainly every situation is different. But certainly with any player we're going to have standards by how we behave when we're not in the building and when we are in this building. I think Kareem understands that and we're gonna move forward and we're gonna move forward with him understanding where I stand on all those matters."

Hunt is a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning it's highly likely he returns with the Browns in 2020, even with his off-field issue in January. He also isn't the only player whose status is drawing questions from those covering the Browns.

Odell Beckham Jr. finished his first season in Cleveland by failing to reach sky-high expectations, a result that was partially a product of Beckham playing through multiple injuries throughout the 2019 season. Folks around town are wondering nervously whether their time with Beckham as a Brown will only last one season.

That won't be the case, according to Stefanski, who sees no major issue with Beckham's behavior in his first campaign in Cleveland, despite his off-field transgressions in New Orleans surrounding LSU's College Football Playoff National Championship triumph.

"I certainly want Kareem and Odell on the team this year, yes," Stefanski said. "They're players I believe in and, again, two different situations. To lump them together, I would put them with all of our players; there's a standard we'll set and we're going to ask them to adhere to those standards."

Such standards have been set in recent weeks with the hiring of Stefanski and Browns GM Andrew Berry. The latter made a similar point of expectation Wednesday, reinforcing Cleveland's attempt to establish unity in all football operations.

"Everybody's going to have to fit into our culture in terms of being smart, tough and accountable and both those guys know that," Berry said.

With free agency still weeks away and Beckham under team control for the next four years, the Browns don't have to be in a rush to strike a new deal with Hunt. How his actions in January affect such proceedings remains to be seen, but we should expect him to again be wearing brown and orange in the fall.

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