Most of the offseason focus on Packers roster cuts has focused on Jermichael Finley and A.J. Hawk. Both of those players elicit strong reactions from Packers fans.
Mention Finley on a sports-talk radio show and the phones lines light up. Drop Hawk’s name in a blog post and the comments section gets heated in a hurry.
John Kuhn doesn’t move the needle like Finley or Hawk. Most Packers fans like Kuhn. They view Kuhn as an underdog who got where he is through toughness and hard work. They also like yelling “Kuuuuuuuhn!” whenever he touches the ball.
As well-liked as the fullback from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania is, however, there’s a chance his days in Green Bay could be over.
Kuhn is set to make $2.6 million in 2013. That’s a lot of money to pay a back in a passing offense who isn’t much of a threat to run, pick up short-yardage first downs or turn checkdown passes into big gains.
Kuhn played 39.2 percent of the Packers offensive snaps in 2012. Pro Football Focus gave him an overall grade of 4.3 for the season, ranking him 12th among all fullbacks (out of 25 that were graded)..
His blocking grade of 4.4 ranked him 16th and his running grade of -1.1 ranked 23rd.
Do those numbers merrit a $2.6 million salary? Probably not, but my hunch is Kuhn will be back unless the Packers could really use that extra $2.6 million to get the Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews contract extensions out of the way sooner rather than later.
I doubt Thompson is going to do much in free agency besides maybe a signing or two for depth. Thompson probably won’t need Kuhn’s cap space to sign free agents.
I also have a hunch that the Packers will head into 2013 with Evan Dietrich-Smith at center and Marshall Newhouse at left tackle. Either that or Dietrich-Smith at center, Bryan Bulaga at left tackle and Don Barclay at right tackle. Whichever combination happens to be the one, Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers are going to want a pass-blocking back who knows where to be and can get the job done.
If Kuhn is released, and the Packers go with a backfield of DuJuan Harris, Alex Green, James Starks and maybe a rookie, I fear we’ll see Rodgers chewing out backs for not picking up blitzes like they should much more often than we’d like. I also think the Packers view Kuhn almost as an extra pass-blocking lineman and don’t mind paying him a little more than a fullback typically makes.
As long as McCarthy stops calling silly fullback dives and draws for Kuhn on third and short, I’m fine with Kuhn being back. His pass blocking is a major asset and he’s a decent enough checkdown option in the passing game.
Rest those vocal chords, Packers fans. I’m thinking you’ll have at least one more season to yell “Kuuuuuuuhn!”——————