The topic of A.J. Hawk gets debated to death by Packers fans every offseason.
Some fans view Hawk as an overpaid bust who has no business on the field. Others view him as a serviceable player even though he hasn’t lived up to his status as a high draft pick. A few delusional fans even think some other team would trade a first or second day draft choice for Hawk.
If I were in charge of the Packers, I’d release Hawk. If released after *June 1, it would save $5.45 million against the salary cap — money that could be used to extend Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji — and cut ties with a player who hasn’t forced a turnover since 2010 and didn’t break up a single pass in 2012.
Hawk has always been a ho-hum player. I believe the Packers committed to him because they weren’t sure about their other options. The Packers were the 35-year-old woman who married a guy that wasn’t quite perfect, but time was running out and the other options were iffy. Settling on Hawk was better than being left alone and vulnerable (with a house full of cats).
Here’s the big question regarding Hawk’s future in Green Bay: Are there finally some other options for the Packers this offseason?
Desmond Bishop is a high-energy playmaker. D.J. Smith is capable. Brad Jones proved his worth after Bishop and Smith got hurt. Terrell Manning and Jamari Lattimore are young players who could emerge if given a chance. Do those players give the Packers enough confidence to divorce Hawk? What if Thompson drafts a physically gifted middle linebacker early in the draft?
On paper, you would think so. But can Ted Thompson really be swept off his feet by two guys coming off major knee injuries, a career backup (who is also a free agent), two kids who have never played a meaningful snap, or a draft pick?
Perhaps the names are a bit sexier this time around, but when you look beneath the surface, the Packers might decide to stay uncomfortably married to Hawk. He had 157 tackles last season, and he at least tries to play physical, even if he isn’t talented enough to make much of an impact.
I have a hard time seeing the Packers letting go of what Hawk does bring, especially for two hobbled guys, a career backup, a couple of kids, and (maybe) a draft pick.
Put on that fake smile once again Packers fans. There’s a good chance we’re going to have to pretend to be in love with A.J. Hawk for at least one more season.
*Note on Hawk’s cap number: If he’s released before June 1, the Packers would save only $2.25 million against the 2013 cap. If released after June 1, the Packers would save $5.45 million against the 2013 cap, but would take a $3.2 million hit against the 2014 cap. This all has to do with the prorated portion of Hawk’s signing bonus. By cutting him after June 1, the Packers could use that additional cap savings for 2013 on signing bonuses on new contracts for Rodgers, Matthews and/or Raji.——————