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Green Bay Packers Re-Sign AJ Hawk: What It Means for Nick Barnett

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  A.J. Hawk #50 of the Green Bay Packers looks on from the sideline against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Packers won 31-25.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Carl SaueyContributor IMarch 3, 2011

Due to make 10 million in 2011, the Packers made a financial decision to part ways with former first round pick AJ Hawk for all of roughly 24 hours.  

Multiple reports have surfaced that Hawk is set to sign on the dotted line of a new five year contract, although terms are not clear.

This, of course, means the Packers still have a glut of talent at the inside linebacker position for the 2011 season.

This new contract would make it hard to see Hawk stepping out of the starter role. Desmond Bishop has already been declared a starter. Brandon Chillar is on the books already under his four year, $21 million deal inked in 2009 for roughly $4 million. Nick Barnett is set to make almost $6 million next year as well. 

Given the financial strain on the Packers, it would be nearly impossible for all of these players to stay on the roster.

Who ends up the odd man out?

The answer is quite clear: Nick Barnett.  

Barnett is the oldest of the four players, 30 next season. He ended two of the last three season on IR and during the 2011 Super Bowl run created bad press for speaking out about a team photo.  

With Ted Thompson's build through the draft mentality, it would be surprising to see Green Bay cut Barnett outright when he could net at least one middle round draft pick.

If a new CBA is not worked out, it will be impossible to trade Barnett before or even during the draft, but here are a few places he could end up:

  1. Buffalo: 3-4 team that is lacking for talent and leadership; would make a great pairing with Paul Posluszny.
  2. Houston: Wade Phillips is bringing a 3-4 defense, which Barnett has experience in. Barnett would be an immediate leader on an atrocious defensive unit.
  3. Tampa Bay: Could use an impact player at middle linebacker in their 4-3.  Barnett has experience and still makes plays when healthy.  Tampa's youth movement would benefit from his veteran presence and swagger.
  4. Arizona: Although Arizona has a lot of holes to fill and may value their draft picks over established veterans, Barnett would no doubt be an upgrade over Paris Lenon to pair next to Daryl Washington. Green Bay could also ask for a 2012 pick to make this work for Arizona.

I would think Thompson could easily get a fourth round selection for Barnett from any of these teams.

A third round pick would make any of these potential trades a slam dunk.

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