ARLINGTON TX - FEBRUARY 06: A.J. Hawk #50 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6 2011 in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
UPDATE from JS Online: Though it's seemed like his intention was to re-sign with the Packers, other teams were able to contact him as a free agent and they showed interest. Sometimes those signs of good faith are not rewarded by either the player or the team.
Second UPDATE from Tom Silverstein: The five-year deal is between $6 to $7 million per season with $10 million guaranteed. It's more than Bishop received, but Hawk had more leverage because they apparently had to release Hawk (and give him the opportunity to speak with other teams) to make the deal. Bishop signed an extension mid-season, and was restricted by the ridiculous 30 percent rule
.I can't recall another contract situation where a player's contract was fully guaranteed for that year if that player was on the roster at the start of the free agency period. But for some reason, these were the terms that the Green Bay Packers agreed to with LB A.J. Hawk back in 2006. So instead of guaranteeing him $10.5 million for 2011, they were forced to release him on Wednesday, and then re-sign him on Thursday. Terms were not disclosed, but Channel 4 in Milwaukee reported it was a 5-year deal.
As Tom Silverstein points out, this could lead to the release of LB Nick Barnett. I don't expect this is a decision they have to make now, and they'll probably let it play out this upcoming preseason. With the emergence and new contract for LB Desmond Bishop, it's seemed likely that they would make a decision between Hawk and Barnett. It's possible LB Brandon Chillar's roster spot is on the line too, but since his contract was extended at the end of 2009, it seemed like he'd remain under any scenario. The Packers are paying all four like starters, and that's probably not affordable.
And I'll throw some cold water on the happy return of Hawk: he's not my favorite linebacker. His greatest asset is his durability, which was valuable after all the injuries hit their linebacking corps. But he's had some struggles in pass coverage (the Packers were generally lousy again in 2010 at covering tight ends) and he isn't the best at fighting through blocks. I expect he'll be the starter again in 2011, and he'll have to battle for playing time in the nickel defense with Barnett and Chillar (depending on who stays).