Free-agent countdown: FB John Kuhn

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Green Bay Packers fullback John Kuhn made his second Pro Bowl earlier this year.

Editor's note: Prior to the start of the new league year in March, Press-Gazette Media is counting down the top unrestricted, restricted and exclusive-right free agents the Green Bay Packers will have to decide on this offseason.

John Kuhn could be back in Green Bay for a ninth season.

Kevin Gold, the agent for the veteran fullback, spoke with the Packers on Thursday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and said there is mutual interest about a return in 2015.

Kuhn will turn 33 in September, but reaffirmed his value to the offense this season. He played sparingly at the start of the year before becoming an important facet of the offense in three-receiver, two-back packages down the stretch.

Perhaps his biggest contribution came in the pistol formation the offense started implementing after quarterback Aaron Rodgers tweaked his hamstring against Tampa Bay in Week 16. The Packers called on Kuhn to help protect the eventual NFL MVP, whose mobility was limited.

Kuhn's knowledge of the offense never has been questioned, but he and the coaching staff believed his run-blocking steadily improved in his first year under running backs coach Sam Gash, a two-time Pro Bowler himself. Rodgers has said that he felt it was Kuhn's best season.

That notion was reflected in the 6-foot, 250-pound veteran being voted to his second Pro Bowl. He was also named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press for the first time in his career despite playing roughly 20 percent of the offensive snaps.

Like last year, it may take some time for a deal to be reached. The Packers have 15 free agents and are prioritizing receiver Randall Cobb and right tackle Bryan Bulaga in negotiations. Last offseason, they didn't come an agreement with Kuhn until early April.

Kuhn eventually signed a one-year, $1.03 million contract that included $175,000 in bonuses. He's been a workhorse for the Packers since they claimed him off waivers from Pittsburgh in 2007, playing in 123 of a possible 128 regular-season games.

The Packers don't have a fullback on their offseason roster, but the position still seems to hold value in McCarthy's system even after transitioning Eddie Lacy and James Starks to every-down backs in the team's no-huddle offense.

Kuhn has proven he's willing to adapt in Green Bay's scheme. Kuhn is the second longest-tenured offensive player to Rodgers, and McCarthy trusts him to carry the ball in key situations. He rushed 24 times for 85 yards with a touchdown, his most production since 2010.

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John Kuhn, 10th-year fullback

The skinny: Unrestricted free agent.

The snaps: 348 total (244 offense, 104 special teams).

The stats: 24 carries for 85 yards, one touchdown; four receptions for 23 yards.

2014 salary: $1.03 million.

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