31-Year-Old Linebacker – Cincinnati Bengals
2014 Fantasy Football Outlook
Although he still hasn't turned into the player the Packers hoped for when they picked him fifth overall in 2006, Hawk logged his second-straight 100-tackle season in 2013, and it doesn't look like th...
A.J. Hawk Contract Information:
Agreed to a two-year contract with the Bengals in March of 2015.
Hawk agreed to a contract with the Bengals on Tuesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
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Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
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A.J. Hawk: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
Exclusive Fantasy Analysis (FREE PREVIEW)According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, cutting Hawk, who recorded 89 tackles for the Packers this past season, will save the team $3.5 million against the salary cap. That added financial flexibility will no doubt come in handy this offseason, with the team hoping to re-up receiver Randall Cobb and right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Hawk is a starting inside linebacker for the Packers who can post high tackle totals.
Hawk's numbers fell in 2011, but 2010 was one of his best seasons since he entered the NFL. He has recorded a triple digit sack count in just one of the past four seasons, and is more solid presence in the middle than a playmaker. Hawk should remain consistent in 2012, but don't expect anything too spectacular from him. Never a great defender in the pass game, the Packers need him to improve in that aspect, or else he may find himself off the field on many 3rd downs.
After failing to hit triple-digit tackles during two years prior, and even having his starter status come into question, Hawk finished 2010 with 111 tackles (72 solo) with three interceptions. Hawk mainly projects as a strong-side block occupier rather than a disruptive playmaker, but his unchallenged role in the middle of Green Bay’s 3-4 means he should be a steady source of numbers, even if he’s never spectacular.
Hawk rebounded with a solid but unspectacular season in 2009, recording 89 tackles and two interceptions. His one sack is disappointing and it's unlikely that he'll ever develop into more than what he is right now.
Hawk played hurt for a good part of 2008, but has never been able to take his play to the next level. The Packers are switching to a 3-4 defense in 2009 and drafted Clay Matthews in the first round, leaving Hawk's role in flux. He doesn't make many big plays, but will still rack up a lot of tackles.
Hawk made 119 tackles as a rookie in 2006 and came close in 2007, recording 104. He has started all 32 regular season games since he entered the league, a good sign of durability. Hawk dipped from 3.5 sacks and two interceptions in 2006 to one and one, respectively, in 2007. He's a tackler first and foremost, and he's a good one, but his numbers suffered because Nick Barnett was healthy all year. Expect him to eclipse the century mark once again this season and he could go much higher if something happens to Barnett.
Hawk’s teammate Nick Barnett was also a rookie phenom, but Hawk might have had an even better freshman season. Hawk was a more prolific tackler (119 total tackles to 112, granted, with one fewer game) and reached the quarterback more often (3.5 sacks to two). Barnett picked off three passes, and Hawk just two, but it's clear that Hawk has that facet to his game. Just as Barnett improved with one year under his belt, don’t be surprised if Hawk takes a step up, possibly into the Top 10 among linebackers. Why? Not just because of the statistical similarity to his teammate, but for his toughness, smarts and aggression. And also because Hawk had three consecutive double-digit tackling games in late November. He'll have to improve his consistency; he had some barren games last season. Although he has decent speed and range, and exceptional recognition skills, Hawk is not a classic weak sider, especially in coverage. Therefore, it might not be wise to expect another pair of interceptions, but with his strength and great angles, Hawk could easily improve on that sack total.
There’s always a rookie linebacker or two in the year-end top 25. Last year, Lofa Tatupu and Odell Thurman did it. The year before it was Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams, whose move to the strong side for year two took him out of the fantasy picture. Before that, Nick Barnett. But Hawk makes this list for more than the fact that it’s wise to have at least one rookie. He’s very close to the prototypical linebacker, with stock size (6-1, 248), a mean streak and impressive instincts. He’s excellent in stuffing the run and in lateral range, though he isn’t quite smooth turning into coverage. That might be a bit of an issue on the weak side from an on-field point of view, but from a fantasy perspective, we’re looking at a guy who can make enough tackles to draft. And 9.5 sacks last year for Ohio State make an argument that he could make up in sacks what he won’t offer in picks.