GREEN BAY - In the wake of recent conflicting reports about whether the Green Bay Packers might re-sign free-agent fullback John Kuhn, coach Mike McCarthy left the door open a crack Tuesday.
An NFL source told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin on May 11 that “mutual interest” remained between the two parties and that conversations were ongoing. But a day later, a radio report cited a Packers source saying the team had “moved on” from Kuhn.
At the time, Kuhn’s locker remained intact at Lambeau Field. That no longer was the case Tuesday. But McCarthy, who increased Kuhn’s playing time considerably last season when he resumed play-calling duties in December, declined to write off the 33-year-old fan favorite.
“Player acquisition is year round so I would never say doors are closed, especially on any of our former players, especially John Kuhn,” McCarthy said after the Packers’ second day of organized team activities. “As far as his situation, we’re still focused on the players we have right now. So as far as John and his future, those are probably questions for other people. But I don’t think you ever close the door. But guys filled out our roster and right now we’re working and focusing on these young players.”
That would include second-year fullback Aaron Ripkowski, who was drafted in the second round a year ago to be Kuhn’s eventual successor. The Packers also signed undrafted free-agent fullback Alstevis Squirewell.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers sounded resigned to going forward without his longtime teammate when asked whether he was disappointed or had anticipated that Kuhn wouldn’t be back.
“Disappointed for sure,” Rodgers said. “John is a dear friend. It’s tough when you lose guys like that or you show back up in the locker room and they’re not there.”
Kuhn has played the last nine seasons with the Packers. On the current roster, only Rodgers (11 seasons) has been with the team longer.
“It’s part of getting older in the league,” Rodgers said. “You look at the last three or four years … (former Packers linebacker) A.J. Hawk, I sat next to him for nine years in the meeting room … James Jones, who came back to us last year and was our leading receiver, obviously he’s not here after a year in hiatus before then. And John, those are three of my closest friends as teammates over the years. You’d love to see guys like that be around because they can help us win.”