When the New York Jets finally signed Dalvin Cook, Zonovan Knight became the odd-man out on their running back depth chart. The Detroit Lions made a shrewd move to add him to their practice squad, and in the wake of David Montgomery's injury last Sunday they added him to their active roster.
Knight was an easy candidate to be elevated the Lions' active roster from the practice squad right off the bat. There's inherent risk in keeping someone like him on the practice squad, since any other team can try to sign him to their own active roster at any point. And with what Knight did in a too-brief stint as the Jets' lead back last year as a rookie, it was only a matter of time before another team had a need and tried to poach him.
And if not for a team having unique familiarity with another running back, it would have happened.
The Cleveland Browns lost running back Nick Chubb to a serious knee injury last Monday. Jerome Ford is being elevated to a bigger role in his place, and the Browns were naturally going to add someone to the mix as this past week went on.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, that someone was nearly Knight.
Lions probably would have lost Zonovan Knight if Kareem Hunt wasn't available
Hunt stood as one of the top free agent running backs available for awhile, with multiple team visits along the way. Even the Browns made no real effort to re-sign him all offseason. Then Chubb's season-ending injury left them looking to add someone, on short notice going into a short week after playing last Monday night.
Hunt spent the last four seasons with the Browns, so he should know the playbook. And he still lives close to the team facility, according to Schefter's report. So it was a unique fit, and it's no surprise they went that direction.
If Hunt had signed with another team and been on their active roster, shy or trading for him, the Browns would have had to move down their list of options to fill Chubb's roster spot. Knight was apparently high on said list, as he should have been. But they didn't make the move to add him quickly enough, before the Lions added him to their 53-man roster last Tuesday morning.