GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Lambeau Field faithful will be able to scream Kuuuuuuuuuhn! at the top of their lungs for at least another year.
Veteran fullback and local folk hero John Kuhn re-signed with the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement.
The one-year deal is expected to be worth just over $1 million, including signing, roster and workout bonuses, agent Kevin Gold said.
The 31-year-old Kuhn joined the Packers in 2007 when he was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh. He’s played in 107 regular-season games with the Packers and he’s become a fan favorite. He’s also one of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ closest friends on the team.
”Great player, great teammate,” Rodgers said at the end of the 2013 season. ”(There’s) nobody I trust more on the field than John. He’s an exceptional guy, I love playing with him, and I’d be really sad if we weren’t able to walk out of that tunnel together.”
In 2013, Kuhn carried 10 times for 38 yards and a touchdown, and caught 13 passes for 81 yards in regular-season play. For his eight-year NFL career, Kuhn has only 165 carries for 506 yards and 12 TDs.
What role Kuhn will play next season is unclear. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week he wants all his running backs to be able to play all three downs. In addition to Kuhn, the Packers have NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Eddie Lacy returning for his second season; James Starks coming back after signing a two-year, $3.166 million deal ($725,000 guaranteed signing bonus); and DuJuan Harris (knee) and Johnathan Franklin (neck) both expected to return to full health.
They also brought back Michael Hill, who spent time on both the 53-man roster and the practice squad last year before signing with Tampa Bay late in the year.
The Packers are loaded in the backfield.
”It’s important for all of them to be three-down players,” McCarthy said. ”For the way we want to play on offense, we want players to be three-down players, we want to keep our substitution limited. That’s an offseason goal of ours.”
At this point, no one pass protects for Rodgers like Kuhn, who helped save the Packers’ season by getting enough of a block on now-teammate Julius Peppers to allow Rodgers to side-step the Chicago defensive end and throw the winning touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the regular-season finale. That road victory over the Bears sent the Packers into the playoffs.
Asked what it takes to be an effective third-down back, McCarthy made it clear what still matters the most.
”A-No. 1, it is pass protection. We protect the quarterback,” McCarthy said. ”He’s a franchise quarterback, he’s the best football player on our team, and we have to protect him. Checkdowns will (also) be an emphasis for us. Because we’re very young with that group.”
But with a whole lot of returning experience in Kuhn.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL