Despite the presence of Aaron Ripkowski, the Green Bay Packers still have interest in re-signing veteran fullback John Kuhn, as well they should.
Kuhn, who has been with the organization longer than any player not named Aaron Rodgers, is reportedly still having “ongoing” contract talks with the Packers according to a report by Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Wood writes that while there is interest within the team to move on from Kuhn and give Ripkowski his shot, Kuhn’s locker remains intact at Lambeau Field and that unlike other free agents such as James Jones and Mike Neal, the door is still open for a possible return.
It’s understandable that the Packers want Ripkowski, a sixth-round pick in 2015, to play, he’s the future. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Kuhn shouldn’t be back in the fold. And despite turning 34 this September, he has enough left in the tank for at least one more productive season.
Looking back on 2015, Kuhn played well. He racked up over 300 snaps and was third, according to Pro Football Focus, among fullbacks with a yards per carry average of 1.9. He also scored two touchdowns (his eighth consecutive season with at least one rushing TD) and generated six first downs, both rushing and receiving, in just 15 total touches.
Hell, Kuhn is the only guy on the Packers now that actually shared the field with Brett Favre. Rodgers did as a backup, but Kuhn actually played fullback with him in 2007. But that’s not why Green Bay should bring him back, it should do that because Kuhn still adds value to the offense as a run blocker, short-yardage runner and pass protector.
Kuhn has also earned the trust of not only head coach Mike McCarthy, but of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. And late last season, the old man from Shippensburg College helped bring a struggling ground game to life.
If you watch the video shown above, you will see Kuhn throw key blocks on two big runs in the NFC Wildcard game against Washington. He also helped the run game bust out for some big gains the next week in Arizona.
And although he may not be as quick and nimble as he used to be, Kuhn did look pretty good in this touchdown run versus Oakland last season.
It’s obvious to everyone that Kuhn is near the end of his career. No one can keep going forever, but that doesn’t mean Kuhn can’t be a meaningful contributor this year — he can. And I don’t buy the argument that bringing him back would waste a roster spot.
Kuhn runs and catches well enough to be the emergency third running back. That will allow the Packers to stash their true third back on the practice squad and should something happen to James Starks or Eddie Lacy, they can make a move.
Plus, not signing someone like Kuhn cause it might cost a 53-man roster spot at this point is silly. You have no idea what will happen in training camp. What if Ripkowski gets hurt? Would be nice to have Kuhn then, wouldn’t it? Or what if Kuhn gets hurt? Then no harm, no foul, expect for the fact that Green Bay could be out a little money, if it had to pay an injury settlement of some sort.
The Packers have a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl this year and Kuhn can help them do it. He has a knack for making plays and his leadership ability adds to the team in ways that can’t be measured.
The bottom line is that Green Bay doesn’t necessarily need Kuhn, but there is no way having him back, won’t make the Packers better in some way, shape or form.