John Kuhn

Extra Points: David Johnson, John Kuhn, Josh Gordon, Eagles

David Johnson has only played extensively in one of his first three seasons in the NFL. After backing up Chris Johnson as a rookie in 2015, Johnson had a record-setting sophomore season in which he rushed for 1,293 yards and racked up another 879 through the air with 20 total touchdowns. Last year, he was lost for the season after just one game. Despite the relatively small sample size, the Cardinals are committed to Johnson as the center of their offense, and appear ready to lock him up longterm.

Johnson and the Cardinals are likely to get an extension done before the season, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). While Garafolo cautioned there’s “work to be done to get there”, he does believe it’ll get done before the season. The Cardinals clearly saw during his one season as their starter just how special of a player he can be, and want to extend him before he hits the open market at the end of this season.

Johnson reportedly has been sitting out some of the Cardinals’ OTAs with an injury, but a source told Kent Somers of the AZcentral.com that the injury is not serious. Somers added that Johnson is expected to participate in the three-day minicamp the Cardinals will hold next week.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Former Packers and Saints fullback John Kuhn wants to play in 2018 and has received interest from several teams, Kuhn told Sirius XM NFL Radio (Twitter link). The longtime Packer fan-favorite said “I’m ready to give it another run, and I’ve been fielding some calls, so I’m just waiting for the right one to give this one more go.”
  • After Duke Johnson signed his new contract yesterday, Josh Gordon is the next Browns player likely to be extended, opines Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland. While Grossi says he’ll have to first prove to GM John Dorsey that he can stay on the field, he “can see the Browns rewarding him with a multi-year deal to head off a possible huge payday in unrestricted free agency in 2020.”
  • There’s a four-way battle for two spots among Eagles wide receivers, but Markus Wheaton and Shelton Gibson are the favorites to emerge, thinks Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Gibson writes that Bryce Treggs and Greg Ward Jr. have impressed at OTAs, but that “it is tough to see Treggs or Ward Jr. passing either Wheaton or Gibson for a roster spot.”

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

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Saints Notes: Fairley, Kelemete, Kuhn, Line

After missing the entire 2017 season as a result of a heart ailment, free agent defensive tackle Nick Fairley wants to play during the upcoming campaign, tweets Nick Underhill of the Advocate. The Saints, who inked Fairley to a four-year deal last offseason but released him last month, are not expected to be involved in a potential Fairley pursuit, per Underhill. Fairley was an excellent interior defender at full strength, but it’s unclear if any NFL club would be willing to bet on his health. Indeed, Fairley hasn’t been medically cleared to play, as Underhill tweets, so a return to the league seems unlikely.

Here’s more from New Orleans:

  • Free agent offensive lineman Senio Kelemete is experiencing a “healthy market,” according to Josh Katzenstein of the Advocate, and while the Saints will likely be interested in retaining him, any reunion will be based on cost. New Orleans isn’t likely to offer Kelemete a chance to start, as the club is set with Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Max Unger, Larry Warford, and Ryan Ramczyk from left to right. Kelemete’s versatility and ability to play nearly every position on the line is his key asset, but he’d surely prefer a starting job to a reserve role.
  • The Saints and free agent fullback John Kuhn have mutual interest in a return, sources tell Herbie Teope of NOLA.com. Kuhn, who was sidelined for the majority of the 2017 campaign after suffering a biceps injury, is currently considering whether he’ll continue his playing career or enter the coaching ranks, per Teope. Fellow Saints fullback Zach Line, who appeared in 12 games for New Orleans following Kuhn’s injury, is drawing interest around the league, reports Katzenstein, but the Saints have interest in retaining him, as well.
  • Saints assistant general manager Jeff Ireland orchestrated arguably the NFL’s best draft class last spring, and he’d like to become a primary decision-maker again in the future, as Underhill writes. “Absolutely, why wouldn’t it be?” Ireland said when asked if getting a second GM job is his goal. “I’m not in a hurry. I told myself when I got to New Orleans I was going to help this team build. I’d really have to think twice about leaving the New Orleans Saints before we won a Super Bowl.” Ireland previously served as the Dolphins’ general manager from 2008-13, and the club posted a 46-50 record under his lead.
  • Although he hasn’t expressed a willingness to accept a full-time position, the Saints would like to have special teams consultant Mike Westhoff return next season, according to Katzenstein. Westhoff is currently recovering a surgical operation which could limit his availability, but New Orleans is willing to allow the 70-year-old a varied schedule. He wouldn’t be accepting the lead special teams coach role, as the Saints intend to retain Bradford Banta (primary ST coach) and Kevin O’Dea (assistant).

Saints To Bring John Kuhn Off IR

John Kuhn‘s complicated Saints season looks like it will have another key chapter. The team plans to use its second IR-return slot on the veteran fullback, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports.

This will finish the Saints’ IR-boomerang itinerary this season. The team already brought Delvin Breaux off IR but did not end up activating him. The team had hoped Zach Strief would be ready to return, but the tackle already underwent surgery that will prevent that from happening.

Kuhn has not played since September. A biceps injury sent him to IR. Once he returns to practice, Kuhn could return to game action for the Saints at any time. The Saints’ employment of fellow fullback Zach Line may make the 35-year-old Kuhn a superfluous addition, but Katzenstein notes (on Twitter) this made the most sense for a second IR-return choice.

The Saints, though, released Kuhn twice this season only to re-sign him shortly after each of those transactions processed. He’s played in 15 postseason games as a member of the Packers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Activate Willie Snead, Place John Kuhn On IR

John Kuhn‘s September of transactions saw the latest chapter reveal itself Thursday, and the veteran fullback’s time with the team took a bad turn.

The Saints placed Kuhn on IR because of a biceps injury Ian Rapoport of NFL.com refers to as “potentially serious” (Twitter link). Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com tweets Kuhn likely tore a biceps muscle during practice this week.

Kuhn, who re-signed with the franchise again on Monday, looks like he will be out for the season. The Saints used his roster spot to officially activate Willie Snead, who is set to return after serving a three-game suspension.

The 35-year-old Kuhn played in two Saints games this season after suiting up for all 16 in 2016. New Orleans released the blocking back twice this month but re-signed him soon after.

Snead returns after a suspension for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. The third-year wideout has been a consistent part of New Orleans’ offense since debuting in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints To Re-Sign John Kuhn

The Saints have re-signed John Kuhn, as Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. The fullback has yo-yo’d on and off the roster over the past few weeks. John Kuhn (vertical)

The Saints released Kuhn after roster cutdowns in early September. On Sept. 6, Kuhn was re-signed, but he was cut again on Sept. 21. Now, he’s back with the team in advance of their game in London on Sunday against the Dolphins.

Kuhn was with the Saints in Charlotte for Sunday’s game against the Panthers, so it was expected that he would be back with the team before long. If the Saints want to do some more roster jockeying, this might not be the last time they add/drop the 35-year-old this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Release FB John Kuhn

No, this is not a repost. For the second time this month, the Saints have released fullback John Kuhn, according to Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter). John Kuhn (vertical)

[RELATED: Kuhn Release Makes Room For DL Kendall Langford]

The Saints dropped Kuhn from the roster after roster cutdowns took place on Sept. 2. On Sept. 6, Kuhn was re-signed only to get another pink slip two weeks later.

Kuhn, 35, has made a name for himself as a tough, durable fullback. However, not every team in the league employs a lead blocker, so employment opportunities for Kuhn are somewhat limited. If history is any indication, he might be back on the Saints’ roster before long.

Last year, Kuhn graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-best fullback. The veteran’s 79.7 score was roughly in line with his career average. In addition to blocking, he also got some touches including four rushing touchdowns and 16 catches for 70 yards and one passing TD.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints To Re-Sign John Kuhn

John Kuhn‘s latest free agency stay didn’t last long. Three days after cutting the veteran fullback, the Saints agreed to re-sign him, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports (on Twitter).

The Saints parted with both Kuhn and Zach Line after the preseason, leaving them without a fullback. But that setup turned out to be temporary. Kuhn is in line to play a second season with the Saints after playing the previous nine slates with the Packers.

When the Saints cut Kuhn on Sunday, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com suggested it could be a brief separation. That turned out to be the case. Kuhn played on roughly a quarter of New Orleans’ offensive snaps last season.

The 34-year-old Kuhn is no stranger to year-to-year arrangements. He played the past three seasons under those terms, agreeing to one-year deals with the Packers in 2014 and ’15 and signing a one-season pact with the Saints in August 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC South

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC South teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Falcons, Panthers, Saints, and Buccaneers are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saints To Release FB John Kuhn

The Saints will release fullback John Kuhn, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).John Kuhn (vertical)

New Orleans had already parted ways with Zach Line earlier this weekend, so the club currently has no fullbacks on the roster and only three tight ends. That could be a temporary arrangement, as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com tweets, and the Saints could search for another fullback/tight end type in the coming days. Indeed, Josh Katzenstein of the Times Picayune reports (Twitter link) that Kuhn could soon be re-signed.

Last season, Kuhn played on roughly a quarter of the Saints’ defensive snaps and a quarter of the club’s special teams plays. In that time, Kuhn rushed 18 times for only 37 yards, but scored four touchdowns. He also added 16 receptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.