Markus Kuhn speaks to reporters Tuesday at Gillette Stadium (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
FOXBORO — Markus Kuhn feels like one lucky guy.
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive lineman not only landed on his feet after signing a one-year deal with the Patriots. It’s a low-risk deal for the Pats, who liked enough of what they saw from the German in his four previous years with the Giants to add him to the roster for depth.
He has a base salary of $760,000 with a signing bonus of $140,000. What’s was the first thing on his mind when he signed with the Patriots?
“Championship. That’s the first thing,” Kuhn said without hesitating.
Kuhn, who was a seventh round pick of the Giants in 2012 out of North Carolina State, is also reunited with another German native in Sebastian Vollmer. But it wasn’t Vollmer that inspired Kuhn to sign in Foxboro.
“Honestly, before I signed here, really not much,” Kuhn said at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. “It was more like primarily when I came here he reached out to me right away. We saw each other a few times in preseason games. We’d talk just because we’re both German, which is special in this league, but other than that, when I first came here, we went to dinner and just hung out, talked, and he told me a little bit about this place here and yeah, I’ve loved it.”
Kuhn is looking forward to the start of OTAs next week and getting on the field and showing he has what it takes to make the roster.
“[I’m] loving it. [It’s a] great organization,” Kuhn said. “Just to come here and be a part of this right now, really exciting for me of course.
What did lead him to sign in New England?
“It was just for me, if you have an opportunity to play for an organization like this with a team and everything around it, it was not really much to think for me if I would come here or not,” Kuhn said. “I loved the opportunity. I was excited I was able to come here and that’s why I grabbed it and ran with it.”
On Dec. 7, 2014, Kuhn returned a fumble for a touchdown against the Titans. It was the Giants’ first non-offensive TD of the season and also the first NFL touchdown scored by a German national. Ironically, that same year, Vollmer was winning his first Super Bowl ring.
“I talked to Sebastian about that too, and he was like, ‘Well, who got a ring out of the two of us?’ I was like ‘OK, touché, touché. Not bad’. Obviously, it was a great experience,” Kuhn said. “I mean especially as a defensive lineman to score period in the NFL it was very exciting. Overall, when you’re out there and you’re able to make a play, I was able to do that, and obviously of course the history behind it meant something to me.
“Honestly, I’m just happy for the football and the guys in Germany that there’s a bigger market coming over from Germany and more and more guys, like all over the globe that are actually interested in the sport and getting better at it, and now even having a guy straight out of Germany [Moritz Boehringer] being drafted. I think that’s a huge accomplishment and it just shows where the sport is going.
“Since the sport, when you play in Germany, is not really to the level that it is here, even [collegiately], it’s no comparison. Every day I think I’m really still growing and now having different coaches again, having different inputs, I think it’s only going to help my level of play as well, again.”
Kuhn tore his ACL in Week 10 of his rookie season in 2012. But he came back to make the Giants and record 48 tackles over his four years in New York, mostly as an interior defensive lineman.
“I know it’s just pretty much you just have to look that you find a spot where you fit in,” Kuhn said. “The ways around are just pretty much they plug you in where they think you can excel at best. That’s pretty much it. I played pretty much just as a defensive tackle. With the Giants, I know it was only we played left or right, so it was either you played a shaded nose or you play a three-technique two high. So, that’s pretty much what we mainly did.”
Now, Kuhn must carve out a niche in New England with the likes of Terrence Knighton, Alan Branch and second-year nose Malcom Brown.
“It’s definitely been quite a new room this year but I mean you have a guy like [Terrance Knighton] coming in who’s been a really great player and he knows so much about football,” Kuhn said. “I mean so much more than I do, so he’s really been a great help just from like little technique things but also a young guy like Malcom. He’s been here last year. I think he had a really good year last year. He played well and he knows the system really well so you learn from an older veteran and then a younger guy who’s been here before.”