Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Packers release Hawk, Lee and Martin

Making business moves like many other teams prior to the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association, the Green Bay Packers today released LB A. J. Hawk, TE Donald Lee and S Derrick Martin. Lee and Martin will not be back. Hawk likely will be.

It's clear the Packers want Hawk on the team going forward. He had arguably his best season this past year. After effectively being benched for the opening game against the Eagles, Hawk played an increasingly important role as the season went on. After fellow linebacker Nick Barnett was lost to season-ending injury for the second time in the last three years, Hawk became the defensive play caller, relaying the calls from defensive coordinator Dom Capers to the rest of the squad; when those calls came in late or were cut off (via a system similar to that in the quarterback's helmet), Hawk had to make the call himself. He also came up big in the playoffs and Super Bowl. Head coach Mike McCarthy has praised Hawk's consistency and calm presence both on the field and in the locker room.

So why release him when he still had a year left on his contract? There are 10 million reasons, as in dollars. Hawk was scheduled to be due $10 million this coming season. As one commentator noted, that's beginning to approach starting quarterback money. There was no way the Packers were going to pay it, and that came as no surprise to Hawk. The team and his representatives have apparently been trying to get a deal worked out ahead of the deadline but the sides were apparently too far apart. Hawk may test free agency, whenever that kicks in given the current circumstances. But he wants to be in Green Bay and the Packers want him there, too. Expect a deal to be worked out. Sometime.

You can read more about all this here.