We weren’t surprised in the least when the Packers signed ILB A.J. Hawk to a new five-year contract less than 24 hours after releasing him from a contract that would have netted him a guaranteed $10 million base salary in 2011, its final year. Nor were we surprised by the supposed serious interest a few teams showed in Hawk before he re-signed. By all accounts, Hawk had done way too good a job while taking over the defensive signal-calling duties in the nickel from the injured Nick Barnett to be sent packing, in addition to developing into a serious leader in the locker room. We hear Hawk’s low-key persistence and poise under fire — despite a nagging right wrist injury — had become a particularly pleasing attribute.
As for Barnett, who is due $6 million in salary and bonuses next season and has finished two of his last three seasons on injured reserve, we hear he could be the odd man out in the expensive logjam that currently exists at inside linebacker. The ILB quartet of Barnett, Hawk, Desmond Bishop and Brandon Chillar could cost the team a projected amount somewhere in the neighborhood of $14-15 million if they are all retained in 2011, and that just doesn’t seem realistic at all.