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Re-signed LB Hawk says he eyed return to Packers all along

A.J. Hawk wasn't worried when the Green Bay Packers released him Wednesday. In fact, he expected it.

Barnett on the trading block

A.J. Hawk is back in the Packers' fold after a one-day absence, putting veteran LB Nick Barnett's future in Green Bay in jeopardy,

Steve Wyche reports.

"That was part of the plan, and they gave me the heads up before they went public with it," the veteran linebacker told the *Green Bay Press-Gazette* on Thursday after the Super Bowl champions re-signed him to a five-year contract. "I had no problem with it because I knew we were getting close to getting something done. The plan all along was to stay here."

Hawk's agent, Mike McCartney, confirmed the deal to's Steve Wyche on Thursday morning. The Packers announced the contract Thursday night, but didn't disclose financial terms.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with A.J.," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement released by the team. "We appreciate his work and dedication and look forward to his contributions to our team in the future."

Hawk, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft, was scheduled to make $10.5 million in 2011, and the Packers hoped to bring him back at a reduced salary. Thompson said Wednesday that the business side of the game drove the decision to release Hawk, and he was hopeful the linebacker would return.

Multiple media outlets reported that a new deal was imminent after Hawk's release.

Hawk's contract came on a day the collective bargaining agreement between league owners and the NFL Players Association was set to expire, although the two sides later agreed to a 24-hour extension.

"Believe me, I was really happy that we got this done right now," Hawk told the Press-Gazette. "It's great to finally figure it all out and not have to wonder."

Despite his lofty draft status, Hawk began the 2010 season as a role player. But after season-ending injuries to inside linebackers Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar, Hawk once again became a starter and played a critical role in the Packers' push to a Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was chosen as one of the team's captains throughout the playoffs.

The Packers now have a potential logjam at inside linebacker. Desmond Bishop received a new deal during his breakout 2010 season, and Chillar and Barnett remain under contract.

Hawk was one of three players the Super Bowl champions let go Wednesday, along with tight end Donald Lee and safety Derrick Martin. Lee was set to earn $2.2 million in 2011, and Martin was slated to make $750,000.

Hawk hasn't missed a regular-season game, making 77 starts in his 80 regular-season games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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