The Green Bay Packers have released veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk, the franchise's leading tackler.
Hawk recently completed his ninth season in Green Bay, appearing in all but two of the 144 regular season games the Packers played during his career. He has recorded 916 tackles in his career and is the franchise's all-time leading tackler, according to the team.
"A.J. is a consummate Packer and we are grateful for all that he has given and how he represented the organization over the past nine seasons," general manager Ted Thompson said. "He was a durable and consistent contributor to our success, but more importantly, he is a great person and teammate."
In nine seasons, Hawk has accumulated 19 sacks, nine interceptions, 34 passes defended and five fumble recoveries. In five of his nine seasons, he recorded over 100 tackles.
Last week, it was reported that Hawk had surgery after the season to remove bone spurs in his ankle. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy recently said that an upgrade at the insider linebacker position might be needed.
"I spent nine great years in Green Bay," said Hawk. "We won a ton of games, as well as a Super Bowl, and I loved everything about playing for one of the greatest franchises in all of sports. The fans in Green Bay are incredible ... I am looking forward to my next opportunity in the NFL, but I’ll always cherish my years as a Green Bay Packer."
Packers guard T.J. Lang reacted to the news on Twitter on Wednesday:
Hawk was the fifth pick in the 2006 NFL draft by Green Bay. He had one year remaining on a three-year, $10.6 million contract and was set to make $2.45 million with an $800,000 roster bonus in 2015.
- Molly Geary