The Green Bay Packers just announced that they have released linebacker A.J. Hawk, who was such a steadying influence on defense during their run to the Super Bowl.
The decision was not a surprise — nor would Hawk’s eventual return, with general manager Ted Thompson saying he was “hopeful” that they could bring him back. In fact, the Packers are hoping to reach an agreement with Hawk before the CBA expires at 11:01 p.m. Central on Thursday, a source told Packer Report.
Hawk was due to make $10 million for the upcoming season and was part of a four-man position group of highly paid players.
Nick Barnett, under contract through 2012, has a base salary of $5.5 million for 2011 with roster and workout bonuses adding up to an additional $550,000, according to a source with NFL salary data. Brandon Chillar, who was given a new deal in December 2009, is under contract through 2013. He’s due a base salary of $2 million in 2011 with roster and workout bonuses of $600,000. On Jan. 4, the Packers locked up the injured Barnett’s replacement, Desmond Bishop, through 2014 with a deal worth $19 million that included $7.45 million in bonus money.
“With A.J., the business side of the game is driving this decision,” Thompson said in a news release. “We’re hopeful that we can continue to work with A.J. to have him be a part of our team in the future.”
Also released were tight end Donald Lee and safety Derrick Martin. They apparently will not be asked back at a lesser price.
Lee was due $2.485 million in salary and bonuses in 2011, the final year of his contract. He caught 11 passes for 73 yards and three touchdowns this past season — including the only touchdown in the Week 17 win against Chicago. He got a new deal in 2007, when he caught 48 balls for 575 yards and six touchdowns, but never got close to those numbers since. In fact, he had 636 receiving yards in the last three years combined.
“We want to thank Donald for all of his contributions to the Packers and for being a good teammate throughout his career in Green Bay,” Thompson said. “He has been a professional and we wish him well in the future.
Martin, acquired for Tony Moll in an end-of-camp deal in 2009, was a top special-teams player. He had six tackles on the kicking units this season before being lost for the final 11 games with a knee injury. He would have been playing the last year of his deal, with $850,000 in salary and bonuses.
“We appreciate Derrick’s work and contributions over the past two seasons,” Thompson said. “He has been a good player on our team and we appreciate his passion and energy.
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