The Green Bay Packers have made another change at inside linebacker. On Wednesday, the team announced the release veteran inside linebacker A.J. Hawk.
Hawk was originally selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, and has been a starter ever since. His durability is one of his greatest assets; Hawk missed just two games in his nine years and started all but eight of the Packers' games in that span.
However, as the second half of the 2014 season went on, Hawk was used less and less. He was off the field for only twelve snaps between weeks two and 11, but played fewer than 50% of the snaps afterwards, bottoming out with just 8 of 68 snaps in week 13 against Atlanta.
The release of the linebacker opens up $3.5 million in salary cap space for the Packers in 2015. This is due to a $5.1 million salary cap hit for his deal this year, which is offset by the $1.6 million in dead money that the Packers will absorb from his prorated signing bonus. Based on the current salary cap projection of $143 million, the Packers are estimated to have just over $30 million in cap space due to the release of Hawk and Brad Jones over the past week.
For his career, Hawk has played in 142 of 144 possible games, starting 136 of them. In that time, he has recorded 19.0 sacks, 9 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, and a total of 926 tackles (628 solo).