Running back as we're using it really refers to two positions, each with it's own unique situation. Accordingly, we'll approach each one separately, providing a grade for both.
It's entirely possible that should James Starks leave, the replacement is already on the Packers' roster.
In 2013, Ted Thompson traded up in the fourth round to grab UCLA tailback Johnathan Franklin. Franklin's rookie campaign was cut short by a head injury, but not before his impressive 13 carry, 103 yard, one touchdown performance against the Bengals. If he can reduce his fumbles while improving in pass protection, Franklin figures to be back in the mix for the upcoming season.
Buried even deeper on the roster is one-time starter DuJuan Harris. Harris' second year with the Packers never got off on the right foot. He lost much of the offseason to a cyst that required surgery to remove followed by a knee injury suffered late in the preseason. Despite missing so much time, head coach Mike McCarthy has continued to publically support Harris. Given Harris' strengths as a receiver out of the backfield, he may be the favorite to win the number two job.
Need Rating (1-10): 3
The question isn't so much whether John Kuhn returns, but if the Packers even care about rostering a fullback. Increasingly since 2009, Green Bay utilized fullbacks less and less as lead blockers for their tailbacks. Instead, the Packers have used more single back sets (often times in the shotgun) and utilized Kuhn as a third down personal protector for Aaron Rodgers. That trend doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon.
If the Packers can strike a deal with Kuhn for around the veteran minimum, they'll keep him around for another year. However, if he leaves, the Packers may instead find an H-Back in the draft or free agency who can supplement what they liked most about Kuhn.
Need Rating (1-10): 2
- Packers 2014 Offseason Review: James Starks and John Kuhn Will Be Free Agents
- Packers 2014 Offseason Review: Grading the Running backs
- Cheese Curds: Green Bay Packers News and Links for January 21, 2014
- Packers 2014 Offseason Review: Judging Need at Quarterback
- Packers 2014 Offseason Review: Free Agent and Draft Quarterback Targets