2014 free-agent countdown
20. Chris Banjo, safety (re-signed Feb. 26)
19. Seneca Wallace, quarterback
18. Kahlil Bell, running back
17. Robert Francois, inside linebacker
16. Marshall Newhouse, offensive lineman
15. C.J. Wilson, defensive lineman
14. M.D. Jennings, safety
13. Jamari Lattimore, inside linebacker
12. Johnny Jolly, defensive line
11. Matt Flynn, quarterback
10. Andrew Quarless, tight end
9. James Starks, running back
8. Ryan Pickett, defensive line
7. Jermichael Finley, tight end
6. Mike Neal, outside linebacker/defensive line
5. John Kuhn, fullback
There are no slam dunks in unrestricted free agency, but re-signing fullback John Kuhn seems as logical for the Green Bay Packers as tendering safety Chris Banjo an exclusive-rights contract on Wednesday.
For past few years, NFL teams have started weighing the pros and cons about carrying a fullback on their 53-man roster. While some have kicked the positions aside, the Packers still find room for the 31-year-old Kuhn.
It’s not strictly based on the importance of the position, either. Sure, Kuhn’s chip block of Julius Peppers in the regular-season finale paved the way for the Packers’ playoff berth, but he also knows the playbook as well as anyone.
If he can still play, it would seem foolish to let him go now, especially considering the role he played relaying line calls when quarterback Aaron Rodgers was lost for two months with a broken collarbone.
The Packers’ new running backs coach, Sam Gash, seemed in favor of Kuhn’s return when asked about it during his introductory news conference earlier this month. It’s not the 1990s anymore and Gash understands fullbacks aren’t needed for 50 or 60 plays, but there still are two dozen offensive snaps where one is warranted.
As much as other teams would lead you to believe an H-back or tight end can blow up a linebacker, nobody does it quite like a naturally trained fullback.
“Look in the playoffs, look at the teams that made the playoffs,” said Gash, a former two-time Pro Bowl player at the position. “They usually had one because there comes a point in time in a game that you need a yard and generally you put a fullback in the game, he knows that and he’s going to make sure that happens whether he has the ball or there’s a guy behind him.
“I’m not saying you go get a guy who’s playing 50 plays a game – not in today’s game. … We’re here to facilitate.”
Kuhn’s agent, Kevin Gold, told Press-Gazette Media over the NFL combine weekend there’s mutual interest on both sides for his return.
The Packers likely won’t offer a contract in the vicinity of the three-year, $7.5 million deal he agreed to in 2011, but still could make it worth Kuhn’s while for a ninth NFL season.
Editor's note: Prior to the start of the new league year in March, Press-Gazette Media is counting down the top 20 unrestricted, restricted and exclusive right free agents the Green Bay Packers will have to decide on this offseason.
No. 5 John Kuhn, eighth-year fullback
The skinny: Unrestricted free agent.
The snaps: 537 total (320 offense, 217 special teams).
The stats: 10 carries for 38 yards and 13 catches for 81 yards with one touchdown.
The 2013 salary: $2,350,000.
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