The Bengals released veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk on Tuesday, two days ahead of round one of the 2016 NFL Draft. The timing seems to indicate the Bengals will add at least one linebacker via the Draft and undrafted free agency this weekend.
"A.J. was a big part of us last season as we won the division championship, and I appreciate his efforts," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis regarding Hawk's release. "We’re going a different direction at this point, but I’ve always been a fan of A.J. It has been a pleasure having him as part of our team and getting to know him and his family better."
So, where does the Bengals' linebacker group stand heading into the Draft?
- Vontaze Burfict (Suspended the first three games of 2016)
- Rey Maualuga
- Karlos Dansby
- Vincent Rey (Resigned March 10th, 2016)
- P.J. Dawson
- Taylor Mays (Hybrid safety/linebacker; suspended first four games of 2016)
- Marquis Flowers (Spent 2015 on I.R.)
- Trevor Roach (Spent 2016 on Practice Squad; moved to roster for Wild Card game)
- Jayson DiManche (Signed January 5th, 2016)
- Jeff Luc (Signed January 11th, 2016)
The Bengals have a lot of youth on their linebacker roster and it seems the team will spend at least one draft pick on a linebacker and then look to add more linebackers in undrafted free agency.
The Bengals have $5,125,158 devoted to the outside linebacker position between Burfict, Dawson and Flowers and $11,259,375 devoted to the inside linebacker position between Rey, Maualuga, Dasby, Dimanche, Luc and Roach. Currently, Luc and Roach's contracts which are valued at $450,000 each don't count toward the Bengals' salary cap as they aren't among the top 51 contracts on the team. That's a total of $16,384,533 spent on linebackers prior to adding additional players in the draft. All contract numbers come courtesy of Spotrac.
Cutting Hawk saved the Bengals $1.4 million and left no dead money.
Which linebackers do you like for the Bengals in the 2016 NFL Draft.