Packer Linebacker A.J. Hawk Ripe For Move To The New Orleans Saints?
By Keith Null
It may seem far fetched but given the Saints recent defensive struggles and relatively ineffective combination of linebackers at the strong side position should the team look towards a trade for an ace linebacker such as disgruntled Packer A.J. Hawk?
Hawk has not officially requested a trade from the Packers but is unhappy with his current situation in Green Bay.
When the Packers move into their nickel and dime formations to defend against the pass Hawk is benched in preference of linebacker Brandon Chiller who they consider to be better in pass protection.
That move of course does not sit well with Hawk given how pass happy a league the NFL has become over recent years.
Hawk watched the Packers opening game against the Eagles entirely from the sideline and looks to only see about 50% of the starting snaps as the season progresses.
But can a 3-4 inside linebacker covert successfully to an outside linebacker in the Saints 4-3 scheme?
Yes, Hawk played as an outside linebacker (weakside) before the Packers hired their new defensive coordinator Dom Capers before the 2009 season, it was Capers who installed the 3-4 scheme and moved him to inside linebacker.
In 2006, his rookie season, he totaled 119 combined tackles (82 solo), 3.5 sacks, six pass deflections and two interceptions. He followed that performance up with a 105 tackle (75 solo), one sack, four pass deflections and one interception in 2007.
Midway through the 2008 season Hawk was moved from weakside to middle linebacker after an injury to starter Nick Burnett and finished the season with 86 tackles (67 solo), three sacks and a pass deflection.
Currently the weakside spot in New Orleans is held down by five year starter Scott Shanle but the Saints could move Shanle over to the strong side, as they originally intended entering the 2010 season before the injury to Jonathan Casillas, and slide Hawk into the weakside for an immediate upgrade.
Hawk has proven he can be a playmaker in a 4-3 scheme, is stout against the run and can rush the passer. The Saints desperately need some help in both those areas.
His addition certainly makes sense and many believe the Packers are more than willing to unload him to a team that is interested, the question really becomes if the Saints want to inherit his 4.623M dollar salary.
Linebacker Clint Ingram is schedules to come off the PUP list after week six and should also provide a boost to the strong side linebacker spot and knowing the Saints they will just hope his presence will be enough to get them over the hump.
Check out Keith Null’s weekly article about the Saints on NFL.com by clicking here.
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