Defensive back released

The Green Bay Packers today released defensive back Michael Hawthorne, presumably to give the team a little more room under the salary cap.<p>

Hawthorne, 28, started the first five games of the 2004 season at left cornerback, then gave way to rookie Ahmad Carroll. The sixth-year pro signed a two-year contract with the Packers in March of 2004. He originally signed with the Packers as a free agent on Sept. 15, 2003, and became an integral part of the team's 'nickel' and 'dime' defensive packages. He played in the final 14 regular-season games, starting the last two.

Last year, Hawthorne started in place of the disgruntled Mike McKenzie early in the season but struggled. He played in all 16 regular season games and had 36 tackles, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He also led the team with 19 special teams tackles.

The Packers were only about $1 million under the league-mandated $85.5 million salary cap when free agency began on Wednesday. Since then, guards Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, and safety Bhawoh Jue signed with other teams as unrestricted free agents. The Packers also were forced to released offensive lineman Grey Ruegamer prior to the free agency deadline in a salary cap move.

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