The Green Bay Packers decided to release veteran inside linebacker A.J. Hawk on Wednesday. Hawk was one of the longest-tenured players on the Green Bay defense, playing nine seasons for the Packers defense.
— NFL (@nfl) February 25, 2015
The move comes a week after another veteran linebacker in Brad Jones was released. Hawk and Jones opened the 2014 season as the two starting inside linebackers, but both players underperformed.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that inside linebacker was their greatest need at the combine last week.
The move will free up $3.5 million in salary-cap space and the Jones release gave Green Bay another $3.75 million.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson said this in a statement, “A.J. is a consummate Packer and we are grateful for all that he has given and how he represented the organization over the past nine seasons,” he said. “He was a durable and consistent contributor to our success, but more importantly, he is a great person and teammate. The Packers are grateful for all that he has done on the field and in the community. We wish A.J., his wife Laura, and the rest of their family all the best.”
Hawk was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft and leaves as the franchise leader in career tackles with 1,118. He was selected to just one Pro Bowl in 2010, which was also the same year that the Packers won the Super Bowl.
Hawk had this to say about the release, “The Packers were awesome about it,” he said. “I have no bitterness and no animosity toward anyone.”
He also said that he has no intentions of retiring, “I’m ready for some new opportunities,” he said. “I feel good. Hopefully I get a chance somewhere else.”
Hawk is from Ohio and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cleveland Browns gave him a call, as they obviously have a need at his position. The Colts, Cardinals, Eagles, Giants, and the Bears are all in need of a linebacker.