Packers: A.J. Hawk released
Something akin to the end of an era in Green Bay as former first round pick in 2006 A.J. Hawk is released.
While his longevity and locker room presence make this something of a surprise, there’s no denying that the team have long been overdue an upgrade at the inside linebacker spot. Hawk may return, but his time as a significant contributor would seem over, with the team desperately now searching to find a combination that works.
With fewer expectations, the tenure of Hawk may be seen in a less negative light, but his play from when the ball was snapped to when it was whistled dead always left a lot to be desired. PFF has been grading since 2007 and only 2012 saw him walk away with a positive grade with his work in the run game rarely impressive. There’s every chance the team brings him back in a reduced role depending on what kind of market he finds for himself, but this move appears to signify the start of a new era at inside linebacker for Green Bay.
What that is remains to be seen. With more talent at outside linebacker in the shape of Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and Nick Perry it’s possible we see even more of Clay Matthews as an inside linebacker, partnering him with one of Sam Barrington and Jamari Lattimore. That said, it’s probably more likely that the team looks to add some depth and competition either via free agency (with a group that doesn’t set your heart a flutter) or the draft (which might) as the team looks to add more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.