Hawthorne's future on hold

Michael Hawthorne is a classic journeyman cornerback. He's a late-round pick with staying power. He has four NFL seasons under his belt, but only a handful of starts. A serviceable defensive backup and special teams player, Hawthorne finished in the middle of the pack in both interceptions (2) and special teams tackles (10) with Green Bay in ‘03.<p>

Hawthorne emerged as the most consistent in a host of reserves after the injury bug bit the secondary in Green Bay, where he found a home after being cut by the Saints after the first week of the regular season. He saw playing time in the postseason, tallying three tackles and two special teams tackles spelling the injured Mike McKenzie. All those distinctions are good, but not great. Are they good enough to keep the Packers interested in Hawthorne, now a free agent?

The answer is yes, and no.

Yes, the Packers have expressed an interesting in retaining Hawthorne. No, that interest was not keen enough to prevent them from letting Hawthorne test the free agent market. Yes, beyond starters Mike McKenzie and Al Harris (who will be a free agent after next season) and no, Hawthorne is not drawing a lot of publicized interest on the market.

Yes, there are a host of talented cornerbacks in the free agent market who are probably attractive candidates for the Packers but no, Green Bay doesn't have the money to sign them.

The best of the free agent corners are already gone. According to reports, it cost the Vikings nearly $11 to sign Buffalo's Antoine Winifield and San Francisco spent a similar amount to re-up with Ahmed Plummer. Another San Francisco corner, Jason Webster, went to Atlanta for a $7 million signing bonus.

The next tier down isn't cheap, either. The Packers were rumored to be interested in Jacksonville's Fernando Bryant, but that was wishful thinking from a financial standpoint. Bryant signed a $24 million, six-year deal with Detroit.

While Hawthorne's agent said the Packers haven't made any new overtures toward his client, the market is quickly evaporating from the perspective of both Hawthorne and Green Bay.

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