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So Long, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones

A.J. Hawk

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.

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. john smith February 8, 2015

    Woodson was with the team in 2012.

    1. pf4l February 8, 2015

      Good point, and the other correction of note is the Packers didn’t foolishly show him the door, he was due 10 million a year, the money deserving of a shut down corner, or Tramon Williams. (sarcasm)

      1. LD February 9, 2015

        Agreed, pf4l. There’s also the old saying that it’s better to let a player go a year or two early than a year or two too late. The Packers were planning way ahead, and Woodson just didn’t fit into those plans, unfortunately. I was sorry to see him go, but not surprised.

  2. Howard February 8, 2015

    I do not think it is to harsh to indicate both should be gone in 2015. It was clear in week 1 ( Jones) and in week 4 ( Hawk) would not be back for 2015 based on their projected pay vs their performances.

  3. UpNorth February 8, 2015

    I wish Hawk nothing but the best as a fellow human being, but as a player, it’s time to go. Even when drafted and in his “prime” he still wasn’t the player he should have been. Again, great team player and class act, but no reason to have him take up a roster spot and much needed cap room.

    As for Jones, well, I thank you for the one fumble you caused in the Seattle game, but everything else you’ve touched has literally imploded. The cap space is far more important then either of these two.

  4. UpNorth February 8, 2015

    Oh, and in other news, or rumors, Edgar Bennett is being promoted to OC and Clements to associated Head Coach with playcalling duties. Or so they say….

  5. Howard February 8, 2015

    I saw that rumor and did not give it much thought. Just maybe though, the melt down in Seattle caused someone in the organization to realize a head coach has to many other responsibilities than to just call offensive plays on game day. There has to be someone on the sidelines that carries a big stick that can keep players and other coaches focused on the current and upcoming game situations. In addition if they are the head coach they could override any play call if needed. This would be a positive move if accurate.

    1. James February 8, 2015

      Maybe but the Packers where the #1 scoring offense with MM calling the plays. But it might make sense to take a little off of his plate seeing that he is also very involved with the defense.

      1. UpNorth February 8, 2015

        They struggled immensely in the Red Zone the entire later half of the year, that’s something a Championship team can not struggle with that time of year. His personal decisions leave vast question marks and his playcalling in general has always been borderline questionable.

        I’m not totally down on him calling plays, sometimes he does it so well, other times he simply looks completely incompetent. I do know one thing though, he’s predictable as hell, and any coach who thinks he needs to meet a certain benchmark of plays in a certain area….let’s say….run at least 25 times! No matter what the result! Sorry but that method will not fly in the NFL. I can’t imagine how much more yards our offense could generate if we didn’t average at least one down of no gain or negative gains.

        We have far too many good weapons at this point and time to let our offense get weighed down with poor decision making.

      2. Howard February 8, 2015

        James, sarcasm noted. Yes you are probably correct. McCarthy may only be able to handle being a play caller. Special teams, and defense are probably way beyond his capacity to have oversight and input on game day as a head coach.

        Though I wonder if any other coaches such as Clements help put game plans and play call sheets together? Clements probably doesn’t know shit about play calling, and I would be sure McCarthy would never be able to stop early celebrations at the five minute mark, remind special teams of potential fake field goals, or find out why Matthews was not in the game. It would be stupid to believe anyone would ever respect or listen to a head coach.

  6. James February 8, 2015

    The defense was not good with Hawk in the game, I cringed seeing him on the field. Brad Jones is a a little harder call.

    1. pf4l February 8, 2015

      The defense wasn’t good with Mathews out of the game. At least Hawk was in the game.

    2. ferris February 10, 2015

      Harder call? I’d rather they play with 10. Jones is the worst defensive player on an NFL roster. Should have been cut during a few games at halftime.

  7. pf4l February 8, 2015

    I think Hawks time has come, hell, it might have come 2 years ago.

    Although Hawk was never the best ilb the NFL has ever seen. I have all the respect in the world for him. This dude always showed up to battle, never did or said anything stupid. Hawk took over the defensive play calling in the 2010 season when Barnett was lost for the season. He did a hell of a job, as that defense was stout.

    All in all, i’m proud to have had A J as a Packer. He may have lost a step through the years, but he was a warrior.

    1. LD February 9, 2015

      Well said, pf4l. I think Hawk catches a lot of flack that he doesn’t deserve, and has done a lot of great things that many Packer fans don’t seem to appreciate. On the other hand, I don’t think he’s lived up to his draft pick status, but that’s probably a topic for another discussion. Regardless, his reduced playing time over last season sure makes it look like the coaches are opening the door for him to leave–and opening it even wider for Jones. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see both guys leave next season.

  8. mnpack February 9, 2015

    Clowns?!? How about a little respect for what AJ Hawk has done for the Packers over the years. He is the all time leading tackler and has restructured his contract numerous times to be more cap friendly. Yes, he is older but still good between the line but even better outside the lines. I foresee the Packers HOF for AJ some day. Best wishes to you #50. You were the best jersey investment I ever made!

  9. Jim February 9, 2015

    I think these articles are pretty much a waste of space and time. First off it’s not even an objective article and secondly its full of holes and misinformation. Let me know when you actually have hard facts and a real article……ya know one that was researched as well….maybe? Just maybe as a “journalist” you could do that? As far as reporting on football you need to find a different sport or at least learn the nuances of the game as opposed to reporting in a armchair QB style and mindset. The positions and players you speak about cant be judged by your limited view of the game or by stats. Hawk while yes never living up to his full potential has still been very solid and he is a smart player. Does he deserve the amount of money he will receive next year? Not really but we also don’t have a guy that can step in and know our defense in and out like he does. Anyways stop writing bullshit stories that have no reason for being and are purely speculation on your part

    1. GreenNGold February 10, 2015

      GTFO!! Obviously you can’t look at the situation and be objective. Hawk is finished. With Hawk playing as our primary ILB from weeks 1-8, we gave up over 150 ypg and ranked 32nd. From week 10 on, after the bye and the Clay move inside on run downs, we ranked 5th in the NFL over the 2nd half of the season allowing just 88 ypg, dropping the overall ypg allowed to 119. One little move, getting Hawk off the field and Packers had a top 10 defense over that time. Hawk is finished!! He brings nothing to the team anymore, and as much as he’s been such a big part of the Packers D for so long and always been a solid player for us, that doesn’t help him today. He’s a liability on the field. He’s no longer a solid player and it’s obvious by the fake FG he’s lacking football smarts too. He’s slow, lacks instincts anymore, misses too many tackles, bottom line, Hawk is done. There’s nothing in the world that can justify Hawk remaining a Packer at a 5.1 mil cap hit. I don’t care if we had to replace him with a baboon, it can’t get any worse than it is with Hawk and Jones. He’s done dude, and as much as you may not wanna believe it, and will keep letting your emotional attachment cloud your judgement, it’s not gonna make it any less true that Hawk is done. They will cut him along with Brad Jones and save 7.25 mil in cap that could help go towards resigning both Cobb and Bulaga.

  10. Please February 9, 2015

    I’m so tired of hearing about how durable Hawk was. The man made almost no plays in his career but boy was he durable. For years Hawk’s loyalists protected him like a mama grizzly. Since he never made plays the default praise was “he’s so durable” and “he gets ’em lined up correctly”. The defense was stout in 2010 because we had Cullen Jenkins, Desmond Bishop, Nick Collins and BJ Ragi having the best year of his career on the team at that point. It will always be a mystery to me as to why Ted Thompson continued to keep Hawk on the team since 2011. There have been many over rated Packers over the years (Al Harris, Darren Sharper, Bubba Franks to name of few) but AJ would be my captain of this all time over rated Packer squad.

    1. pf4l February 9, 2015

      “The man made almost no plays in his career.”

      Kids, let this be a lesson to you.

      You can’t fix stupid.

      1. Please February 9, 2015

        Ah, another blind AJ Hawk enthusiast. Enjoy his highlight reel as he fades off into the sunset. Encourage the “kids” to watch and make sure you explain to them Hawk’s durability and solidness during that minute of video.

        1. Howard February 9, 2015

          Good point PIease. I do not love Hawk either. I do not believe he should have been the fifth pick in the draft. I do not believe that was Hawks fault. There could have been better picks at number 5.

          There are a couple of things I do like about Hawk. In fact I would show my grand sons a video of Hawk and tell them, see that guy he is not flashy, you cannot always be the flashy one. What you have to do is go to work everyday and put forth the best effort possible. You are not there to be flashy you are there to be a part of a team. Always do your job to the best of your ability. Put in the extra time. Do not expect great rewards, great rewards will come to you when you work hard. Never let your fellow workers down, always be on time and at work even if you are sick or not feeling well. If you do those things even though you may not be an athlete, you can achieve the highest goal possible in your profession whatever it may be. In the case of that guy who is not flashy it was a Super Bowl trophy and ring! The pinnacle of an NFL career.

          1. Please February 9, 2015

            Howard…I completely agree with your comments. You’re exactly right concerning the attributes that youngsters should try to learn and absorb. I have no issue with Hawk personally….he seemingly worked hard and was a good teammate for years. It was no fault of his that he was kept on the roster year after year. My problem is that the Packers organization failed miserably in assembling the best product (mostly defense) for those years.

        2. pf4l February 10, 2015

          Please……..If you don’t think Hawk made any plays in his career, you are either too stupid to debate with, or you are just an asshole.

          1. Please February 10, 2015

            You, my friend are the one having difficulty with debate and discernment. Most people would understand when I said that AJ Hawk makes almost no plays I’m speaking of “splash plays” or “significant plays”. Sadly he doesn’t have many and over the past four years the cupboard is almost bare. I understand you like AJ Hawk and you’re going to protect him (my brother is the same way) but you score few points when you just curse people who don’t agree with you. Good day.

          2. Shawn Neuser February 10, 2015

            Yeah, except that familiar “splash” play argument is flatly false. Just last season, Hawk had 118 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 passes defended, and 1 forced fumble. Many of those plays are “significant.”
            It is true that AJ Hawk has never been what most would consider a “playmaker.” However, most inside linebackers in the 3-4 defense are not. Patrick Willis was probably the best ILB in a 3-4 in 2012- his numbers: 120 tackles, .5 sacks, 2 INTs, 9 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles. The OLBs in a 3-4 are expected to make most the “splash” plays.
            There is no debate that Hawk’s performance fell off a table this season, and he no longer appears the caliber of a starting NFL linebacker.

          3. pf4l February 11, 2015

            Please….. “Since he never made plays the default praise was “he’s so durable”

            Your words, not mine.

            Everyone agree’s his time is up. But most Packer fans know he made plays.

            Don’t disrespect someone who “made plays”, wore the Packer uniform with pride and class. Gave up money for the good of the team and much more.

            I was willing to discuss this further with you, but i’d rather wait and discuss it with a Packer fan.

  11. Rich February 9, 2015

    Hawk was a good college player..but never stepped up in the pro’s. .send him back to college.

  12. Please February 10, 2015

    Shawn…We’re in different universes. You can look at stat lines (especially Hawk’s tackle numbers which are so ridiculous since he gets credit for jumping on piles 10 yards down the field) and come to a conclusion that he isn’t that bad. Well he is because the film doesn’t lie. Do you watch the play of good inside linebackers? They’re physical, they’re intuitive, they don’t get engaged with offensive lineman, they regularly thump running backs at or behind the line of scrimmage, they pummel receivers over the middle, they fly to the ball. Hawk’s play fell off the table several years ago (not last year) and it was a travesty that Ted Thompson kept bringing him back and then added Brad Jones to the mix. Do you check any of the scouting reports and appraisals that are published each year? Several have been wondering for years why Hawk is still holding his job. You can stay in your camp and I’ll stay in mine.

    1. Shawn Neuser February 10, 2015

      I spend about 10 hours a week watching the game film. How about you? THAT’S where my opinion comes from. NOT from his stats. Though his stats are instructive to how he compares to other linebackers. The oft-used myth that Hawk gets 100 tackles a year by “jumping on piles downfield” is laughable. Last season, during the first half, when our run defense was actually ranked in the top 5, Hawk regularly made plays in the backfield, including on big third and short plays. His play tailed off with most the rest of the defense at the end of last season. By the end, he was a not great but serviceable linebacker. By the end of this season, however, he was no longer serviceable. Anyone can see that on the tape.
      It is because the coaching staff watches the tape that their opinion through the years has matched mine, and not yours.

      1. Please February 10, 2015

        I watch a lot of tape and have for many years and guess what, so do a lot of other people. A running joke my friends and I have bantered around often is how could any coach watch Hawk’s game tapes week after week and continue to not only play him but keep him on the team. It’s stunning! I guess you would fit in that category…how can you watch so much film and think that Hawk was even a serviceable linebacker? We have a game we play on Sundays, it’s called “what did AJ do on that play?” We replay the play to see where AJ went and what he did. It’s gotten pretty funny. When you say the coaching staff agrees with you you’re absolutely right…congratulations, you on the side of the staff that has made some of the most bizarre head scratching decisions when it comes to defensive personnel in the NFL (by starting MD Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Brad Jones at various times) and it’s also why the Packers defense has been so poor since 2010 and has been the main reason for them not advancing. What is laughable is your comment that Hawk “regularly” made plays in the backfield in the first half of last season. I don’t think you know what the word regularly means. I do know that if Hawk ever did make a play the Hawk loyalists were out in force to site his contribution and that one play could give them boasting rights for weeks. Bottom line is that Hawk has been a disaster for several years now and many people who watch lots of tape agree with me. I’m extremely comfortable siding with this group over you and the Packer’s coaching staff.

  13. elafave February 12, 2015

    Dude… You’re just rambling. Where do you watch all of this tape? You have running AJ Hawk jokes with your buddies? You play weekly AJ Hawk games while rewinding the “tape”?? You’re luvung in a pretty crazy world.

  14. Brewtown Packer Backer February 13, 2015

    Show Hawk the door but bring him back for the Packers’ HOF. He deserves that much. Jones, however, is hereby banned from Brown County.

  15. lambeau.leaper27 February 21, 2015

    Glad 2c Jones go but the dogging comments on AJ is crazy from 2011-13 he had over 110 tackles leading the Pack an this yr he had 90 tackles injured…simply crazy 2 let him go!!