Packers: With Hawk Returning, What Does the Future Hold for Nick Barnett?

Less than 24 hours after being released by the Packers, linebacker A.J. Hawk found himself back inside the cozy confines of Lambeau Field on Thursday, after signing a new five year deal with the team.

For Packer fans, it was refreshing to hear such good news after a hair-raising start to the offseason.  Green Bay's recent Super Bowl victory can easily be credited to the hard work of Hawk during both the regular and postseason, while the Packers fifth rank pass defense in 2010 also showed how valuable Hawk's 111 tackles on the year were.

But unfortunately, the Packers aren't on easy street just yet.

With the resigning of Hawk still creating headlines, one man has been forgotten through the roller-coaster transition - fellow linebacker Nick Barnett, and in hindsight, the chances of Barnett returning to Green Bay continue to evaporate by the day.

Straight off the bat, the Packers may have no intention to pay Barnett right now.  Currently he is due to earn $5.5 million next season, a hefty sum of money for general manager Ted Thompson to consider, who claimed Hawk's original release was strictly business oriented.

So with Dom Capers defense stacked entering the 2011 season, and Desmond Bishop reaching a contract extension back in December, there really is no need for the Packers to act on the Barnett front just yet.

Next in line is the injury factor, something that has cost Barnett big time since the beginning of last year.  In 2010 he played in just four regular season games for the Packers last year, after injuring his wrist in Week 4.

Consequently, this may be why Barnett hasn't heard from the team recently, and is so unclear as to what his future holds.

"I am not sure as well," Barnett told the Green Bay Press Gazette via email. "No one has came to me and told me anything. So just waiting to hear something."

Lastly, Hawk hasn't helped out either.  When Barnett was injured for the remainder of the regular season, the Packer defense immediately shifted into overdrive, which threw Hawk straight into the deep end for the next 12 games (plus the postseason).

Hawk lived up to his end of the deal, recording three interceptions and half a sack last season.  He also took Frank Zombo under his wing, and helped coax Clay Matthews through his second year as a starting linebacker.

What was Barnett doing? 

Working hard of course, but the team photo scandal surrounding the Super Bowl has successfully annoyed several fans in Green Bay.

The Packers aren't likely to make a move with Barnett anytime soon.  The CBA must come to a definite answer first, such is the case with many teams looking to make free agent moves sometime in the next three to four weeks.

Barnett may be willing to cooperate in terms of money, but if he isn't, not much will be lost.  Along with Matthews, Hawk, Zombo and Bishop, defensive end Erik Walden is also a valuable asset who continues to emerge.

Trading him could prove to be valuable, especially if the Packers could pick up a draft pick or two in the process.  The outside linebacker position has been discussed heavily in regards to April, or alternatively, Green Bay could also snatch a cornerback. 

In the mean time, though, there really is no rush to decide on Barnett right now.

 

Follow Ryan Cook on Twitter.

Ryan Cook is an Australian writer for Acme Packing Company. He is also a guest writer for PackerChatters. Send him an email: ryan.cook392@gmail.com.

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