Not only did the Cleveland Browns suffer their first loss of the season on Monday night, but they also lost the heart and soul of their offense. During the second quarter of a 26-22 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Nick Chubb was carted off the field after suffering a gruesome injury on a hit by Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The ESPN broadcast team initially opted not to air the replay, but gasps from the crowd at Acrisure Stadium could be heard when it was broadcast on the jumbotron. The crowd thencheering him on and acknowledging him as he was carried to the locker room.
A four-time Pro Bowler, Chubb had 64 yards on 10 carries before getting injured. He totaled 106 rushing yards in the Browns’ Week 1 win over the Bengals.
Jerome Ford replaced Chubb as the Browns’ starting running back. A fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Ford had eight carries as a rookie and 15 carries in Cleveland’s 24-3 win over the Bengals. He played admirably in Chubb’s place Monday night, totaling 106 yards on 16 carries, including a 69-yard run that set up Cleveland’s final score.
Regardless, the loss of Chubb is significant for the Browns, who entered Monday night with legitimate playoff hopes. Now, the Browns will have to keep those hopes alive without one of the best running backs and players in the NFL.
As for who they should possibly bring in to help cushion the blow of a likely loss of Chubb, here are some options.
This will be among the most popular matches, and for good reason. Hunt is still available on the free agent market, and given that he played for the Browns the previous four seasons, he has immense knowledge of the playbook and could be a plug-and-play addition to the backfield back. In 17 games played last season, the 28-year-old totaled 468 yards and three touchdowns while catching 35 passes for 210 yards and another score. If Cleveland wants to roll with Ford as their primary guard, Hunt would be a good secondary option who could take on a larger workload if necessary.
Fournette is in a similar situation to Hunt. The veteran went unsigned this offseason and is currently looking for the right opportunity, which could possibly be with the Browns after Chubb. The 28-year-old can work both between the tackles and as a pass catcher, which would complement Ford well. With the Buccaneers last season, Fournette totaled 1,191 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns. This included 73 receptions for 523 yards.
Cam Akers’ relationship with the Rams has apparently deteriorated, with the guard being inactive while healthy for the past week. Now reports indicate that Los Angeles isas they move forward with Kyren Williams as their primary running back. Needing help in the backfield, the Browns naturally make sense after Chubb. The former second-round pick has totaled 786 yards (4.2 yards per carry) in 2022 with seven touchdowns. In the Week 1 opener against Seattle, he rushed for just 29 yards on 22 attempts, so he might be better viewed as a complementary piece to Ford as he steps up to replace Chubb.
If they want a direct replacement for Chubb, you can’t do better than Jonathan Taylor. The Colts guard is currently on injured reserve, but can still be traded. Of course, his health would be the first thing Cleveland should check before making such a deal, but when healthy, Taylor is among the best running backs in the league. Before the season, the Colts granted Taylor’s camp permission to seek a trade, but nothing came to fruition. As he gets closer to being eligible to return from IR, it will be interesting to see if these trade talks intensify. Having a player of Taylor’s caliber in the fold would make Cleveland’s running game one of the most feared in the league and would likely be a welcome development for the veteran as well.