Green Bay Packers May Have Released A.J. Hawk, but Will He Really Fly Away?

J FCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  A.J. Hawk #50 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with his baby daughter Lennon after winning Super Bowl XLV 31-25 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The former first-round pick's 2010 performance was hidden in the shadow of his fellow long-haired linebacker Clay Matthews.

Although Matthews may be a fan favorite in Titletown, A.J. Hawk held the Packers defense together and produced solid numbers while his teammates fell to the IR one by one.

Hawk recorded 111 tackles, the most since his rookie year, along with a career-high three picks. The Packers did not want to pay him the $10 million he was owed in 2011, and after failing to negotiate a new contract, they released him.

However, Ted Thompson hinted that they would continue to try to bring him back, and now, a day after being released, it looks like a five-year deal is almost finalized. Hawk will not make as much money, but I'm sure he'll be glad to remain in Green Bay on a team with high hopes of returning to the Super Bowl.

If the Packers do indeed re-sign Hawk, ILB Nick Barnett may be sent packing in his place. Barnett spent most of the season on the IR, and the defense has seemed to move on without him.

The Packers have plenty of linebackers, and it appears that they will stick with Hawk long term. The length of the contract may seem surprising, but Hawk is only 27 years old and the details have not yet been released.

One thing is certain, the Packers' pair of long-haired linebackers will be together again, and it was the right move.