The Green Bay Packers announced today that they have released nine-year veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk. Hawk reportedly failed a physical after undergoing a recent surgery on his ankle and the move will carry a “failed physical” designation.
Hawk was told of the move last week but the team chose to wait to make the official announcement. Hawk was scheduled to count $3.5 million towards this next season’s salary cap. Hawk was appreciative of how the Packers handled the move and has no animosity towards anyone in the organization. Hawk was also released in 2011, but the move was more logistical and to re-sign him to a more cap-friendly deal. There will be no repeat of that this time around.
Hawk was visibly slowed during the latter part of this past season and while no injury was reported, it was hinted to by teammates and widely speculated that he was dealing with a lower body ailment of some kind. Hawk was regularly slow in getting to ball carriers and seen taking very deep angles in order to compensate for lost speed, something he never had to begin with.
Last week, the Packers released inside linebacker Brad Jones, who began the season as the starter in the 3-4 base defense next to Hawk. Sam Barrington took over Jones’s starting role early in the season. With both Jones and Hawk now out of the picture and after Packers head coach Mike McCarthy admitting that inside linebacker is the team’s biggest need last week at the Combine, we can expect to see changes in the middle of the defense in 2015.
Last year, the Packers used their first round pick to address the safety position, which was as much of a need as inside linebacker is now. Ironically, it was rumored that the Packers preferred to select one of linebacker Ryan Shazier or C.J. Mosley with their first pick but both were off the board by the time Green Bay was on the clock. Currently the Packers hold the 30th pick in round one and there is too much that can happen prior to that slot to say with any certainty that Green Bay can find someone able to replace Hawk. I can assure you, however, that general manager Ted Thompson will draft one or two linebackers. Keep an eye out for a look at the inside linebacker position moving forward right here at ALLGBP.com very soon.
While it may have been time for the Packers to find a player to take Hawk’s place, they’ll have an even more difficult time replacing the man. Hawk and his wife Laura were very involved in the Green Bay community and he was the consummate teammate during his time with the Packers. Hawk leaves with just over 900 tackles to his credit. In his nine seasons, Hawk made the Pro Bowl only once, in 2010. The only unfortunate thing about the selection was that Hawk was not able to participate in that game as he was preparing with the Packers for Super Bowl XLV. I chose the image above as that’s the one that I think most Packers fans will carry with them of Hawk with his beefy frame and long locks. He was a consummate “lunch pail” guy for the Packers organization.
Hawk has said that he would like to continue playing and is prepared for that to be somewhere outside of Green Bay.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: