Will John Kuhn Return to the Packers?

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John Kuhn
My hunch is the Packers bring FB John Kuhn back in 2013.

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!”


Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .


14 thoughts on “Will John Kuhn Return to the Packers?

  1. Agree 100% on the way too predictable 3rd and short dive plays and baby draws that MM thinks still work. Everyone within 100 miles of the stadium, even if they’re not watching the game and totally involved in something else, get this tingling feeling on the back of their neck and then realize, “yup, McCarthy just ran Kuhn into the backs of the OL on 3rd down for no gain”.

  2. The incremental savings of replacing Kuhn would probably be $1 to $1.5 mil. Then you don’t know if the replacement can provide the versatility that Kuhn does until he plays. So, there’s a risk cost that has to be factored in. Adding all this uncertainty together and I don’t see the Packers releasing him.

    If they need “CAP” space urgently it’s going to be Hawk and Finley that will be adjusted.

    By the way the Packers offered the minimum tender to protect EDS. If he gets anything higher than what the Packers believe he’s worth it’s Center need time for the draft.

    1. Perhaps insted of cutting Kuhn, Thompson decided to risk giving EDS the lowest tender and trying to save about $700,000 that way.

      1. Now we’ll see about EDS. There are teams that need a center. They can get him cheap. And if some team offers just half a million more, EDS will be gone. My guess is that nobody will offer him a contract.

  3. I advocated jettisoning Kuhn last off season. He did play better than I thought he would especially on ST but it’s time. He’ll be 31 at the start of the season, his play has gone down, and TT can save $2M+ if he brings in a rookie (maybe Lonnie Pryor in round 6) to replace him.

  4. Based on knowing Starks will get injured again, Green’s lack of instinct, and Harris’s short time in the offense it is a good bet that Kuhn stays another season as someone who can fill in as a RB for short periods. In addition because they lack an average blocking TE that could replace him as an H back on passing downs this adds to his value as well. Crabtee “looks” like a solid blocking TE but was ranked low by Pro Football Focus and we know Finley can’t block and Williams is too small (beside like Finley having questionable hands). Kuhn does not look pretty but he gets into the end zone on offense, plays on all special team units, and never leaves anything on the field (a throw back to the 60’s full backs).

  5. This might be strange to say, but I think McCarthy almost puts too much emphasis on pass blocking. He seems afraid to put other options in on third downs, which really limits the playbook. Kuhn actually does a nice job catching checkdowns and making something out of them, as well as being stubborn as hell in pushing the pile, but he’s limited as a fullback and doesn’t quite have the set of qualities that make a great third down back.

  6. exactly, having kuhn limits what the offense can do. i’m still shocked when i see how slow he is running in the open field. still, kuhn would be difficult to replace because of what he brings to the table. worth the salary for another year but i would rather see the team carry 2 fullbacks so that they can start training our FB of the future.

  7. In reading David Syvertsen’s piece at Great Blue North on LeVeon Bell a thought came to mind. He struggles w/ lateral runs, locating holes and making quick decisions but he’s very good at pass blocking and receiving. If he can add 10-15 lbs to his 6-1 230 lb frame maybe he could be one helluva FB. Thoughts?

    Le’Veon Bell – Michigan State – 6’1/230
    Finishes with the second highest overall grade at the RB position. Struggles with the lateral runs and will struggle to locate holes. Should be a better runner that what I see on tape. He has a lot of tools. Physical, quick, agile hips. Doesn’t seem to have that savvy, quick decision making ability though. As a receiver, Bell is very underrated. He catches the ball better than some tight ends and receivers. Strong, sure hands. 67 catches over final two seasons at MSU. On top of that, a top tier pass blocker. Probably the one guy in this class I would trust right away in that role. A lot of value here because of everything he can do.

  8. I think Kuhn sticks one more year at that price. If the Packers can overpay Finley, Pickett, Hawk, Tramon Williams and Crosby (and according to PFF, all those guys are way overpaid, as is Kuhn) I’m not going to sweat Kuhn’s $$$.

  9. Lets get a power blocking full back to help get the running game going, one who can also catch a 3rd down pass if needed

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