Longtime NFL fullback John Kuhn has retired as a member of the Packers, Green Bay announced today.
“John was a terrific football player and tremendous teammate who contributed to many years of success for the Packers,” Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst said. “He was a true professional whose work ethic and leadership set a great example both on the field and in the locker room. We want to thank John and his family for all they did for the Packers and in the community as well as wish them nothing but the best.”
While he’s best known as a member of the Packers, Kuhn actually began his career with the Steelers after going undrafted in 2005. He appeared in nine games with Pittsburgh (all in 2006) and won a Super Bowl before joining Green Bay in 2007. Kuhn went on to spend the next nine years with the Packers, earning another Super Bowl title in the process. All told, Kuhn handled 196 carries for Green Bay, scoring 24 total touchdowns while collecting three Pro Bowl nods, one first-team All-Pro selection, and one second-team All-Pro berth.
Kuhn signed with the Saints in advance of the 2016 campaign and wound up spending parts of two seasons with the club, appearing in 18 games over that span. He didn’t play in the NFL in 2018, though he did express interest in doing so. PFR extends its best wishes to Kuhn as he enters retirement.
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 Johnsonsigned 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.”
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:
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.
Carlos Hyde didn’t have the kind of platform year he was hoping for, but he’s still just 26 and could headline a running back by committee group.
Jerick McKinnon‘s placement on this list figures to be controversial, but his athleticism and pass-catching ability can blow a game wide open. No one will bank on McKinnon to carry the ball 20 times per game, but he can be a real difference maker for a team out there.
Can Frank Gore outrun father time? History indicates that he can’t and so does his 3.7 yards per carry average in 2017. You have to give credit where credit is due, however. Gore has been ruled out by many for years, but he has not missed a regular season game since the 2010 season. He’s also just one year removed from cracking 1,000 yards and he almost did the same last year.
For most teams, Allen Robinson would be a franchise tag candidate. However, that may be too much of a luxury for the cash-strapped Jaguars. He presents a fascinating free agent case. Robinson missed all but three snaps of the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL, but he’s the most talented wide receiver on the board in the eyes of many. His 2015 season – 80 catches, 1,400 yards, and a league-leading 14 touchdowns – makes GMs drool. His quieter year in 2016 (73 catches, 883 yards, and six touchdowns) is less worthy of salivation. His 2017 season, of course, was a lost cause. For all the question marks, you can expect Robinson to see more dollars than any other free agent WR this year, particularly since Jarvis Landry has been held back by the tag.
Some in the football world may prefer Sammy Watkins for his big-play ability, but his down contract year amidst a capable offense is cause for concern. His injury history doesn’t do him any favors either. No matter your feelings on Watkins, there’s no debating that this year’s WR market has a top tier comprised of just two players – Watkins and Robinson. With few quality receivers out there, they’ll both get paid.
Marqise Lee represents a much less sexy option (speaking in football terms, of course), but he had the most receptions of any Jaguars receiver in 2017 (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). Teams looking for a quality WR2 in free agency could do a lot worse than Lee and he’ll be far cheaper than the two-man top tier.
Danny Amendola hauled in 61 receptions for 659 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season and continued his strong play in the playoffs. However, teams will wonder if he can thrive in his age-33 season while playing outside of the Patriots’ offense. It’s also quite possible that he never tests the market as his stated preference is to remain in New England.
After that, you’ll notice a pretty significant drop off. That’s because this year’s WR class isn’t all that deep. Terrelle Pryor had to settle for a one-year prove-it contract last year and, to put it mildly, he did not prove it. Paul Richardson caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, but that marked his first NFL season of real note.
Trey Burton spent most of the year behind Zach Ertz on the Eagles’ depth chart, but he emerged late in the season and set himself up nicely for free agency. Given his age and potential, there’s no question that he is the belle of the ball at tight end.
The rest of the tight end crop is not nearly as inspiring. Jimmy Graham has enjoyed back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons with the Seahawks, but he’ll turn 32 in November and he’s no longer the monster playmaker that he was in New Orleans. He had ten touchdowns in 2017, but his 9.1 yards per reception average is a career low.
Odds are, you have Tyler Eifert ranked over Austin Seferian-Jenkins given the fact that Eifert has played just ten games over the last two years. ASJ, meanwhile, rebounded from personal issues to post a 50-catch season for the Jets. Personally, I’m picking Eifert based on upside. Hopefully, we can still be friends.
Offensive line play is down across the board and evaluators around the league have been openly complaining about an increasing dearth of tackles coming out of college. That makes for a generally uninspiring lot in free agency.
Nate Solder battled through injuries in 2017 and did not miss a game. He’s no longer a top-flight option, but he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 32 tackle last year, meaning that he’s starter quality at left tackle. You’ll notice that three of the top five tackles on this list are Patriots. There’s little chance that the Pats let all three get away.
Justin Pugh offers the ability to play both guard and right tackle, though he might not do either one particularly well.
Andrew Norwell is the undisputed king of this category after netting an All-Pro selection in 2017. Norwell also earned a career-high 88.8 overall score from Pro Football Focus, which positioned him third in the entire NFL amongst guards. A team with greater means than the Panthers might have used the franchise tag on him. Fortunately for rival teams in need of interior help (such as the Giants), they won’t cuff him with the one-year placeholder.
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).
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.
September 28th, 2017 at 4:15pm CST by Sam Robinson
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.
September 25th, 2017 at 1:23pm CST by Zachary Links
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.
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.
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.
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.
September 3rd, 2017 at 4:04pm CST by Dallas Robinson
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: