The Free Agent Status of A.J. Hawk

ARLINGTON TX - FEBRUARY 06: A.J. Hawk #50 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with his baby 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)

Pro Football Talk pointed out this article from Bob McGinn on JS Online.com that LB A.J. Hawk is guaranteed his 2011 salary of $10 million as of the first day of the league year. That could be as soon as March 4. But it should be put on hold as long as the labor negotiations are at an impasse. 

I've been acting under the assumption that the Green Bay Packers will not have to release him, and instead will negotiate a lower base salary next season. I haven't thought through all the technicalities, but the team seems to like him, and he seems to like playing in Green Bay. I've just been expecting it would all work out.

The major hangup might be that he's not likely to play on every down. He was supposed to play only on early downs, and often find himself replaced by LB Brandon Chillar, but that didn't happen due to injuries. I expect Chillar will play a majority of the snaps once he returns next season.

Is Hawk someone that the Packers should keep in the same role next season, even if that means moving Chillar into a backup role? Or is ridiculous to pay two starters for only one linebacker position?

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