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A Tale Of Two (Or Three) Linebackers

A.J. Hawk

The Green Bay Packers threw some major money at both Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk in the past year, with Hawk getting a gigantic new contract just before the lockout.

Meanwhile, the team cut ties with Nick Barnett once the lockout ended and the former first-round pick signed with the Buffalo Bills.

Hawk makes an average of $6.75 million a year and Bishop makes an average of $4.75 million a year. Barnett’s deal in Buffalo averages $4 million over three years.

Guess who’s performing the best. Not the guy getting paid the most.

Of the three inside linebackers, A.J. Hawk is easily performing at the most pedestrian level.

Through nine games Hawk has 48 tackles, 1.5 sacks, no interceptions and no forced fumbles. In other words, he’s back to being the slow-footed, non-playmaker he was before the second half of last season. At his current pace, Hawk will finish the season with 85 tackles and two sacks.

La di da.

Bishop, on the other hand, is tearing it up in his first full season as a starter. He has 84 tackles (fifth in the league), five sacks and one forced fumble. He’s also been the most consistent playmaker among the Packers front seven. At his current pace, Bishop will finish with 149 tackles and eight sacks. Those numbers will probably get him to the Pro Bowl and might even make him an All Pro.

So what about that guy the Packers decided to let go?

Barnett is having a nice season for the Bills and certainly a better season than Hawk. He has 71 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, two interceptions and one touchdown. More importantly, he’s helped a suspect defense become one that’s at least serviceable. Over a full season, Barnett’s numbers project to 126 tackles and three interceptions.

Obviously, the Packers released Barnett for a number of reasons. He’s older than Hawk and Bishop. He was making around $6 million a season. He has a history of injuries. He can be a distraction to the team.

Was it the right move? That’s debatable.

What isn’t debatable is both Bishop and Barnett are performing at a much higher level than Hawk.

Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. Erik November 16, 2011

    so what are you saying we should have kept the over hyped over paid always injured barnett? hawk is solid and has never missed a game give him a break.

    1. Packers for life November 16, 2011

      Barnett up untill 2009 led the entire team in tackles and has lead the league in tackles – not to mention the guy could cover TE’s and RB’s where as Hawk couldnt cover his bed with a sheet. The only reason behind them keeping hawk is his durability and he knows the defensive play book and makes the right calls for the most part. Barnett though he took to twitter to much was a great ILB maybe a little undersized as a backer in the 3-4. please go look up his career numbers as a packer and dont base your assumptions over a 2 year spam which does not reflect what he has done since entering the league.

  2. Ryan November 16, 2011

    At the same, it is fair to look at the recent trends of his stats. Your comment stated it – he was great up until 2009. Since then, he has been injury prone.

    Also – did anyone else notice Desmond Bishop looking very angry as he was coming off the field after Tramon’s interception on the flea-flicker? I could have misinterpreted his actions, but he looked to be angrily removing his chin strap as if something had gone wrong…?

  3. iltarion November 16, 2011

    I believe Bishop was just letting off some steam after the big hit he delivered to Ponder.

    Monty always has a problem with Hawk. Every year we go round and round about it.

    Debatable? Is that a fricking joke? Seriously, I have defended Barnett plenty of times because I always respected the guy off the field, but did Monty or the joker commenting above even watch Barnett from 2008 to 2010?

    Barnett could cover a RB or TE? Since when? Not during those seasons he couldn’t.

    When Barnett hits someone, they are tackled 4 yards later.

    Barnett is too small to play inside in the 3-4.

    So, should we sign the 30 year old coming off the IR who has missed 19 games in the last 3 seasons, or should we sign the guy who helped us win a Super Bowl? Yeah, real debatable call there.

    And it isn’t debatable that Barnett has outplayed Hawk this year? OK. If you say so. The primary responsibility of both players is to stop the run. The Bills rank 23rd in the league against the run, giving up 125 yards per game. The Packers rank 8th in the league, giving up 100 yards per game. Thanks.

  4. iltarion November 16, 2011

    Oh, I forgot, the Bills defense is “serviceable”? Hahahaha!!!!

    Have you watched the Bills play recently?

    The Bills rank 29th in yards allowed and 23rd in points allowed, giving up more than a FG per game than the Pack defense.

    For a guy who has criticized the Packer D all year, you are giving the Bills a lot of leeway.

  5. Zack November 17, 2011

    Like they always say, better to let a player go a year too early than a year too late… Let’s see how Nicko does next season.

  6. Cosmic November 17, 2011

    Enough already with Hawk. Call Ted and tell him to clean out AJ’S locker then. What the hell? Every signed player is a gamble. Yes his price is high but on the other hand you guys would be kissing asses and writing about the vision of Ted Thompson if Hawk blew up. Maybe its the cool southern breezes of Cali that has you guys glassed over. Those of us with who own a snowblower and don’t buy snow appreciate lunch bucket AJ.

    1. Monty November 17, 2011

      Good argument. I’m not saying you can’t like A.J. Stats don’t lie though, bro. I gave him credit when he played well last year. What happened to that guy? His lunch bucket get too heavy with cash?