Personnel Moves I'd Make When The Lockout Is Lifted: Sign FB John Kuhn

Next move I'd make for the Redskins is to sign FB John Kuhn from the Green Bay Packers. Mike Sellers should no longer be a starting fullback in this league and the Redskins should be in the market for an upgrade. 

Now Kuhn has only 5 years of service time, so if for some reason 2011 uses this past season's free agency rules, then he'd be just a restricted free agent. The Packers though just offered him an 'original round tender', which gives the Packers the right to match the deal, but will not allow them to receive any compensation since Kuhn was undrafted. Since the Packers did but the 2nd round tender on Kuhn which wouldn't have been that much more money, it is safe to assume that Green Bay won't match any offer that would pay Kuhn much in his first year or two.

Update: A number of the early comments indicated they thought Kuhn was a lock to return to GB and I wanted to clarify some things: The Packers still have FB Quinn Johnson under contract next season, and he showed quite well as a lead blocker. He doesn't do everything else, but GB doesn't necessarily need him to. The Packers added RB Alex Green in the 3rd round and while he isn't a true power back he has good size and his excellent hands should make him a weapon out of the backfield. With Green, the emergence of James Starks and Ryan Grant coming back, Kuhn will no longer really have a major role in the running game. Finally, the Packers drafted two TE's D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor, despite Jermichael Finley coming back, and Andrew Quarless having a nice year. Taylor has played some H-back in college, and Williams has always been associated with the position. Given all those resources placed at those positions, it considerably eats up the value that Kuhn brings to the team. I have a hard time believing they'd match a $2.5 million contract for a guy, when they could have put a $1.9 million tender on him to get a 2nd round pick in return (also if FA goes back to 4 years or even 5 years Kuhn is an UFA). 

The case against Sellers:

I know Mike Sellers is still a fan favorite in some circles, but he has really seen his production come down these past few years. He used to be an integral part of the offense, used as a lead blocker, short yardage back, pass protector and receiver out of the backfield. Now his play has declined to the point where he doesn't do any of those things well anymore and the only thing he is still average at is his role as a lead blocker (he's still a stud special teamer as well). 

Sellers has been downright awful as a short yardage back and pass protector of late which has led for his role in those areas to more or less disappear. Even his lead blocking has been a mixed bag, as in 2009 he struggled mightily, before putting up a solid year last season. He doesn't devastate defenders like he used to, but this past season he got the job done most of the time in this area. I know some might point to his contributions in the passing game as a receiver and cite his performance this past season where he had career high's in catches and YPC (since becoming a FB). While those numbers were nice his 5 dropped passes were very troubling considering how few opportunities he got. Even worse than the drop passes was the fact that he ran the wrong routes. I can remember at least 3 times that a Redskins QB while trying to avoid pressure looked to throw to Sellers in the flat, only to have him already break off his route to run a vertical route. The two worst cases were after Rex Grossman took over at quarterback. In two separate occasions, against the Cowboys and Giants, Grossman looked for his safety valve only to have him running the wrong route. Each time the ball ended up in the hands of the opposing team and Sellers had to answer to Shanny for his mistake. The Dallas interception resulted in a quick TD for them (luckily the Giants kicker missed a 39 yarder to limit the damage).

While Sellers shouldn't be starting anymore I would still look to keep him if the team looks to keep two FB's again. Sellers will cost under $1 million this season, and his special teams play and leadership makes him pretty worthy of a spot on the roster. He could also get a few snaps in a jumbo package as a lead blocker, and obviously offers good depth.

Why John Kuhn is the answer: 

With big names like Vonta Leach and Le'Ron McClain available it might seem odd to put Kuhn above them, but I think he is the best fit for Washington. 

McClain wants to be less of a traditional fullback and be more of a big power back, like a Brandon Jacobs. I just don't see that being a fit for what the Redskins need and plan on doing with the position. He's an average blocker, but not as strong as the Skins should be looking for. He is also likely to be pretty highly pursued, and could command around $4 million a year.

Leach seems like a good fit because he comes from the Texans and knows Kyle Shanahan's offense, while being one of the best lead blockers in the league. The knock on Leach is that is basically all that he does. Leach isn't as good a pass protector as he is a lead blocker, and offers pretty much nothing as a rusher or receiver. Leach also apparently is intent on becoming the highest paid FB in the league which should put him north of $4 million.

Kuhn in many ways is the best of both worlds, while not having the price tag of either top fullback. Kuhn is a good blocker (particularly in pass protection), and is capable of being both a short yardage threat and an option out of the backfield. Kuhn also has shown himself willing to contribute to his team however they need him to. Kuhn will help take over the pass blocking loss of Clinton Portis, and should be a major upgrade in that area as a 3rd down back. The other area that can't be overstated is the short yardage threat. When the Redskins go for it on 3rd (or 4th) and 2 yards or less, or on the goal line, they simply haven't been able to run the ball effectively. While the offensive line is partially to blame a big issue is the lack of a power runner. Kuhn gives them that, and while he isn't perfect he should convert more first downs and touchdowns than the Skins have in quite some time. And with Sellers still on the roster the Redskins would be able to utilize a jumbo formation and give Kuhn a lead blocker. 

Kuhn to me fits exactly what the Redskins need as he can be the all-around fullback and really be a nice threat on the goal line. His price tag probably will be somewhere in the $2.5 million range and he looks to be well worth the investment. 

Steve Shoup has been a Redskins fan his entire life and dreams of the day they get back to the glory days of his youth. In addition to his regular piece on Hogs Haven, you can find his daily writings at Fanspeak.com. 

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