According to FOX Sports' Alex Marvez, the Bengals are parting ways with veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk.
The Bengals have since confirmed this move.
Hawk just finished up his 10th NFL season in 2015, which was his first with the Bengals after spending his first nine years in Green Bay. He finished this past season with 24 tackles and one sack in 284 defensive snaps. Now 32-years-old, Hawk was no longer the player he once was, and the Bengals probably didn't think he'd give them much, if anything in 2016.
Last year, Hawk was cut by the Packers and then signed a two-year, $3.25 million contract with the Bengals on March 11. The contract contained just $500,000 in guarantees, which was paid as a roster bonus in 2015. By cutting him now, the Bengals save $1.4 million in cap this year as none of his salary for the 2016 season was guaranteed.
Still, this is a bit of an unexpected move since Hawk had a decent 2015 season when he played, but with Karlos Dansby now here and youngsters P.J Dawson and Marquis Flowers rising up the depth chart, Hawk's role was about to diminish significantly.
This isn't a surprising move itself, but the timing is odd since the team has had the entire offseason to do this, but for some reason waited until the week of the draft. Then again, maybe Hawk is considering retirement and the Bengals are just being proactive. There haven't been any reports suggesting Hawk may retire, but once a player gets into their 30s, that's always something to consider.
You also have to wonder if this has something to do with the Bengals' draft plans and if they'll spend a high pick on an outside linebacker, a position at which this draft has several quality prospects. There's a lot of talent in this draft with guys like Ohio State's Darron Lee and Joshua Perry, Alabama's Reggie Ragland, USC's Su'a Cravens and Arizona's Scooby Wright III, among others.
Maybe the Bengals feel good about landing one of those guys in the first 3-4 rounds. Or perhaps the Bengals are actually considering a guy like Noah Spence with the 24th overall pick and making him a hybrid SAM/defensive end like what Cris Carter was last year.
Whatever the Bengals' plan is, good luck to Hawk in his future endeavors.