A.J. Hawk's return could lead to Nick Barnett's departure

You don’t have to look too long and hard at the depth chart at linebacker for the Green Bay Packers to draw the conclusion that Nick Barnett could be on the outside looking in soon.

The Packers moved swiftly to re-sign A.J. Hawk on Thursday after they had to release him the day before to avoid owing him $10 million in 2011. He’s now entrenched as a starter moving forward along with Desmond Bishop, who received a lucrative extension in the final month of the regular season.

So that naturally leads to the question that Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette tackles: What does this mean for the veteran Barnett, who was sidelined after the first month of 2010 with a wrist injury?

Barnett is on the hook for $5.5 million in 2011 and $6.9 million in 2011. His salary cap figures are even larger.

“I am not sure as well,” Barnett wrote in an e-mail to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “No one has came to me and told me anything. So just waiting to hear something.”

The idea was floated that the Packers could work to trade Barnett but for the same contractual reasons the team would want to dump him, it would also be challenging to trade him. The Packera also have Brandon Chillar in place and it could be that there isn’t room for Barnett, who has been a core member of the defense ever since Mike McCarthy took over five years ago.

Stay tuned.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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