Bears won't rule out pursuing RB Kareem Hunt

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears left open the possibility of pursuing free agent running back Kareem Hunt, who was released by the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 1 after video surfaced of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in the hallway of his Cleveland residence.

Hunt is on the commissioner's exempt list and would need to be reinstated before he could sign with any team.

Bears head coach Matt Nagy and Hunt have a relationship that dates back to Kansas City, where Nagy served as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator during Hunt's rookie year in 2017.

Nagy said Monday that he reached out and spoke to Hunt via phone one week ago.

"I talked to Kareem, completely wanting to know how he's doing," Nagy said. "We had a good conversation. Here's a kid that I spent a year coaching on offense. It's a tough situation. I wanted to see ... making sure that he's OK but understanding, too, the situation that happened is unfortunate for everybody. He knows that.

"The only thing I cared about when I talked to him was literally his personal life, how he's doing. It was a good conversation. He sounded good. But that's it. The other stuff, that's not where it's at. There's more to it than the football, so we talked strictly on that."

In video posted by TMZ of the incident, which took place in February, Hunt and the woman trade words in a hallway and are separated by several people. Hunt pushes the woman, who responds by hitting him in the face. Two men escort Hunt down a hallway before he charges out, colliding with a man who then knocks the woman over. Hunt then kicks the woman in the leg.

The Chiefs said Hunt was not truthful in his discussions with the team about what happened, leading to the decision to part ways with him.

Hunt confirmed that.

"I didn't tell them everything," Hunt told ESPN's Lisa Salters. "I don't blame them for anything. My actions caused this. ... The Chiefs did what was right."

After the video was released and shortly before the Chiefs' announcement, Hunt was placed on the Commissioner Exempt List by the NFL. Hunt said the NFL never questioned him about the assault or asked him to talk about it.

Sources told ESPN's Dan Graziano that the NFL is considering three separate off-field incidents as it decides on discipline for Hunt. In addition to the altercation in Hunt's residence, the league is looking at a restaurant altercation in June and an incident at a nightclub in January.

"I was raised... to give guys second chances, not third chances," Nagy said.

As a rookie last season, Hunt, 23, led the NFL in rushing with 1,327 yards. He was fifth in rushing this season with 824 yards and had 26 catches and 14 touchdowns -- seven rushing and seven receiving -- at the time of his release.

"I had a really good experience with him," Nagy said. "On the football field, you can see what he does.

"As far as the person, with me and coaching him and all that stuff, there were no issues at all. He was a really, really good kid. He came to work every day. He wasn't late to meetings, any of that. So it was obviously a surprise. It's an unfortunate situation for everybody. We all understand it. It's a learning lesson for everybody."

The Bears face a decision at running back in the offseason as Jordan Howard enters the final year of his contract. Howard rushed for a career-low 935 yards in 2018.

Although Chicago may have a need at running back, general manager Ryan Pace stressed that nothing is imminent in regard to Hunt, who is still subject to league discipline once a team signs him.

"We're not even there yet," Pace said. "I mean, I know what he is as a player obviously from watching. Matt knows more about him as a person. We're not even close to that point."