It’s been a while since the Green Bay Packers released a veteran who was still under contract. The last notable such move would have to be Charles Woodson, who the Packers foolishly showed the door following the 2011 season.
It could be argued that the Packers weren’t in the position to make moves like that in the past few years.
Last year, we’re certain cornerback Tramon Williams was looked at. In the final year of his contract, his cap number was $9.5 million, which doesn’t really equate well to his level of production these days. If the Packers would have released him, only $2.3 million would have counted against their cap, a savings of $7.2 million.
But while Tramon maybe wasn’t playing at a $9 million per season level, he was still one of the Packers’ two best cornerbacks entering the 2014 season and the powers that be wisely decided to keep him around.
Two other guys, who we’ve long dreamed of the Packers getting rid of, fall into another boat. Prior to this offseason, both linebackers Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk had multiple years left on their contracts.
Last year, Hawk had a cap hit of $5.1 million. However, because he had two years remaining on his deal, releasing him would have immediately cost the Packers $3.45 million. Hence, their savings would have only been $1.65 million.
Similarly, Jones’ 2014 cap hit was $3.925 million. If the Packers had released him, it would have cost them $2.2 million in dead money. Thus, their savings would only have been $1.725 million.
It made more sense just to keep those guys around and hope to get something out of them. The Packers got nothing but mediocrity and failure out of them, but that’s beside the point now.
The good news is, it’s a totally different story this year.
There’s nothing prohibitive tying the Packers to these two clowns any longer.
Hawk again has a $5.1 million cap number. However, the fiscal penalty for releasing him is much lower — just $1.6 million. So there’s a savings of $3.5 million. Jones has a cap number of $4.75 million. The dead money from his contract is only $1 million, so the Packers save $3.75 million and lop off a cancer in the process.
You may think that’s harsh, but we wouldn’t be talking about this if either of these guys had performed in 2014.
Jones opened the season as a starter at inside linebacker and was benched after the very first game — a game in which he missed three tackles. He rarely saw the field on defense after that, but when he did, he still managed to make colossal mistakes.
Hawk, on the other hand, has been the durable starter on the inside since he was drafted back in 2006. And while we appreciate that Hawk is a team-first guy and he’s seemingly indestructible, he’s never been a playmaker. At this point in his career, he’s just an old, slow non-playmaker.
It’s time to cut the cord.
Not only is there financial incentive to do so, but the Packers have much better options to man the inside linebacker position already on the roster. If they don’t part ways with Hawk and Jones this offseason, then stupidity rules the day.