Hawk Cut Then Uncut

Cost saving measures.  Every team in the NFL is undergoing using that terminology this week.  The definition of cost saving measures is cutting players, salaries, anything a team can do to save money prior to a possible work stoppage in the NFL.

These measures are becoming creative.  Wednesday the Green Bay Packers released 27 year old linebacker A.J. Hawk, causing many jaws to drop around the league.  But within minutes the move gained more understanding.  Hawk was scheduled to make $10 million in 2011 and with the uncertainty surrounding the NFL labor situation, it’s obvious the former Ohio State Buckeye standout became an infamous cost saving measure.

“With A.J., the business side of the game is driving this decision,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. “We’re hopeful that we can continue to work with A.J. to have him be a part of our team in the future.”

The future happened very quickly.  The parting of the ways between the two lasted only one day as the Packers re-signed Hawk to a five year deal, albeit at a lower salary.  It was evident after the statement by Thompson the Packers were playing games with the present time frame of labor negotiations and used the minutes to get a new deal accomplished.

Fellow inside linebacker Desmond Bishop already inked a 4 year extension worth $19 million in December, so the Packers decided they couldn’t afford both Hawk and another linebacker, Nick Bishop.  Bishop will make $5.5 Million next season, making him more affordable with the new Hawk agreement.

Hawk was the fifth pick in the 2006 NFL draft after an All American career at Ohio State.  He started the season slated to be a specialist on the defense, but soon was moved back into a starting role because of injuries.  That move led to the resurgence of the Packers and their late season run that led to the Super Bowl victory.  Hawk played so well and was such a consummate team player before starting the players elected him as a captain for the playoffs, showing the respect they thought he deserved.

Hawk turned his game around in 2010 after two subpar seasons.  The linebacker registered 111 tackles and three interceptions, an upgrade from the previous two seasons where he made less than 90 tackles each year.  Hawk also has played in every game since entering the league, starting 77 of the 80 games possible.

Hawk and teammate Clay Matthews, Jr.  are not only known for their outstanding linebacker play, but also for their long manes of hair.  With the Super Bowl victory, the pair probably can now audition for a shampoo company and make millions.  Hawk is also known for being married to the sister of Denver Broncos backup and former Notre Dame Quarterback Brady Quinn.

Long hair or not Hawk would have been highly coveted on the open market had this new extension not been reached.    It was good for both sides, lowering the cap value for the Packers and extending the years for Hawk.  That is a “win-win.”

Now if only the players and owners could do that.


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