After spending the last nine seasons – his entire NFL career – in Green Bay, linebacker A.J. Hawk will be looking for a new contract and a new team. The Packers announced today in a press release that they’ve parted ways with the veteran linebacker, releasing Hawk from their roster.
“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,” GM Ted Thompson said in a statement. “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.”
Hawk, a former fifth overall pick, had been entering the final year of his contract, and would have counted for $5.1MM on Green Bay’s cap. By cutting him, the Packers clear his base salary, roster bonus, and workout bonus from their books, creating $3.5MM in cap savings.
Over the last nine years, Hawk has been one of the most recognizable players on the Packers’ defense, averaging over 100 tackles per year and appearing in all but two of the team’s regular-season games. However, toward the end of his tenure with the franchise, the 31-year-old’s production no longer matched his salary. In 2014, he saw his playing time scaled back toward the end of the season and in the playoffs as he struggled with an ankle injury, and he recorded a -14.4 grade for the season, according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics (subscription required).
Hawk is the second longtime Packers linebacker to find himself on the free agent market within the last week. Green Bay also cut Brad Jones last Friday. Like Jones, Hawk won’t have to clear waivers, and is immediately free to sign elsewhere.