Wide receiver James Jones and running back John Kuhn both will be back with the Green Bay Packers.
Agent Frank Bauer said Sunday that Jones has agreed to a three-year deal with the team, and agent Kevin Gold said Kuhn has agreed to a three-year deal.
Specific financial terms were not disclosed. Gold said Kuhn’s deal puts him among the best-paid fullbacks in the league.
Bauer said Jones is glad to be back and the Super Bowl champions are happy to have him.
”Everybody’s very, very happy,” Bauer said, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy hoped to have both players back after losing guard Daryn Colledge to Arizona, defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins to Philadelphia and backup running back Brandon Jackson to Cleveland in free agency. The Packers also have retained kicker Mason Crosby.
”It’s great to get John and James under contract,” McCarthy told reporters in Green Bay after Sunday night’s practice. ”Obviously, they’ve been here. John is an excellent fit for us at the fullback position and also special teams. John has played so many positions for us. I know (special teams coordinator) Shawn Slocum really leans on him in the special teams area. Same thing with James. We drafted him here. He’s continued to grow each year and did some very, very positive things last year, and I think James’ best football is in front of him. Anytime you’re able to keep your weapons intact as an offense, I know the quarterback, the offensive staff and everybody feels very good about getting those two guys back.”
Jones explored the free-agent market, but several teams looking for receiving help signed other free agents. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has said the team should make keeping Jones a top priority.
Kuhn was considered a fullback going into last season, but took on additional rushing responsibilities late in the season after the Packers were hit with injuries. Kuhn became something of a folk hero to Packers fans, scoring five touchdowns – three rushing, two receiving – in the final five games of the regular season.
Fans at Lambeau Field yelled ”Kuuuuuuhn!” whenever he touched the ball.
McCarthy said Kuhn could fit in as the team’s third-down back this season.
”If we had to play a game today, yes,” McCarthy said. ”John Kuhn can play third down. He can play first, second and third down if we needed it. The beauty of John is he actually ran the ball last year when we needed some attempts there due to injury. He can play one-back. He’s a very smart, instinctive football player, personal protector on the punt team, he plays the wing, all the way through. He has incredible versatility.”
Earlier Sunday, Rodgers said he still was holding out hope that Jones and Kuhn both would return to the team.
”I am, yeah, for sure,” Rodgers said. ”He’s an important part of this team. He plays a big role for us. We need to add him back, I think. We need to add John Kuhn back. Those are two guys out there right now who are important to us. It’s not my decision, but I’m definitely pulling for those guys to bring ’em back.”
Several media outlets reported Jones’ deal earlier Sunday, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Jones, a third-round draft pick out of San Jose State in 2007, has 149 catches for 2,069 yards and 13 touchdowns in four seasons. He also has three touchdowns in seven playoff games. He had five catches for 50 yards in the Super Bowl victory over Pittsburgh.
Jones’ return leaves the Packers well-stocked at wide receiver, including Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and second-round draft pick Randall Cobb. Brett Swain and a handful of lesser-known players also will get a look during training camp.