Former Ohio State linebacker AJ Hawk is not looking for a new home, but where will he wind up?
The Cincinnati Bengals recently released former Ohio State linebacker AJ Hawk after just one season. After 10 seasons in the NFL, it is hard to imagine Hawk not playing professional football again.
Prior to last season, Hawk played all nine of his previous seasons for the Green Bay Packers after being drafted by the team with the fifth pick in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. During that time, Hawk played very well despite being hampered with a couple of injuries that would have forced other linebackers to miss some time.
His level of play and statistics does show a significant drop-off with 54 tackles for Green Bay in 2014 and then 16 tackles for Cincinnati last season. While at Ohio State, Hawk was one of, if not the most intimidating players on defense in college football. His skill set continued to improved early on in his career and outside of 2015 was providing solid production.
Although there is a difference with Hawk’s stats, he still has plenty to contribute to a team. But which team will that be? Could Hawk retire? Yes, but that would be an absolute shock. He still has a few years left and should bounce back strong in 2017.
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There are four teams that stand out as fits for Hawk. Those teams are the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, and the Green Bay Packers. Yes, that would mean a reunion with his old team. Each of those teams have been playoff/Super Bowl contending teams.
On all of those rosters, Hawk would not be forced to carry a significant workload as each team has plenty of talent across the board. Everyone knows their role and what is expected out of them.
Hawk’s 2015 season could be a cause for concern, but as long as he signs with one of those teams or another title-contending team, then last season will not be that big of a deal. Arizona has a bright future with a good balance of older vets and younger players. Baltimore needs to get younger along the defensive line, and adding a player with Hawk’s accomplishments would not downgrade their linebacker positions.
Each year New England continues to add veteran talent who can be a fit in their system. Such players typically have had something to prove and the majority of times have succeeded. Defensive end Chris Long is the most recent example.
Green Bay needs to shore up a few areas on their roster but they are still the class of the NFC North. There is no reason to think that Green Bay cannot make some noise again this upcoming season. if everything fell into place, the Packers could very well be back in the Super Bowl in 2016.
Hawk knows the system, has succeed in it, and was a key component of their defense. Wherever Hawk plays next season, his new team will greatly benefit with him affiliated to their organization.