Hawk a happy camper

A.J. Hawk is back playing football after signing his name on the dotted line of a six-year contract with the Green Bay Packers Saturday morning. Hawk, who missed Green Bay's first training camp practice Friday night while finalizing the deal, rejoins the team today.

A.J. Hawk capped off a week he won't soon forget by signing his name on the dotted line of a six-year, $36 million contract this morning. Now the Packers linebacker, who got married in a civil ceremony earlier in the week, says can put his focus on football and preparing for his rookie season with the Packers.

"It's good to get all this stuff in line before I can come in here and play football," Hawk said today. "That's what I'm focused on."

Hawk's six-year deal is worth between $36 million and $37.5 million, according to reports. It includes guaranteed money of about $16 million, including a roster bonus this year of $1.91 million, a guaranteed option bonus next year worth $11,856,250, and guaranteed portions of his base salaries. Hawk's deal also includes a minimum playing-time incentive that will drive up the value.

If Hawk plays in 35 percent of the defensive snaps this year, or if he fails to do that but plays in 45 percent of defensive snaps in a subsequent year, his base salaries for all remaining years increase. If he reaches that incentive this year, which is likely barring serious injury, the value of the deal increases from $17.6 million over the first five years to $26 million, and in the sixth year he'll make $10 million or the average of the five top-paid linebackers in the NFL, whichever is higher, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Hawk was hoping attend the team's first practice Friday but found himself in a helpless situation. Though his agent and Packers had agreed on the deal, there were a lot of loose ends that needed to be completed by the attorneys involved.

"It was tough because I never really knew exactly the situation of when I can come in," Hawk explained. "I was told a couple hours before practice was going to start that it was 99 percent done, but I didn't realize the steps I had to go through, how many times you have to send it back and forth to make sure everyone on both sides is happy with it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get here for practice last night. It just took a little longer than expected and we finally got it done this morning."

Hawk, selected fifth overall by Green Bay April 29 in the NFL draft, is the first linebacker drafted in the top five of the NFL draft since Washington chose LaVar Arrington No. 2 overall in 2000. Hawk was only the 26th linebacker selected in the top five since the 1970 league merger. The Packers are relying on Hawk to spearhead their defense for years to come.

"He's got good pedigree," said Packers general manager Ted Thompson. "He's been a good player at a big-time place for a long time. As you go through a draft, you try to pick holes in people. It was difficult to find holes in him. He has an ability to run. He can rush the passer. He can cover. He's a good tackler. He's a pretty savvy player. I think he's a football guy."

On Monday, Hawk and Laura Quinn, sister of Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, were married in a civil ceremony Monday afternoon in the Green Bay. The newlyweds plan to celebrate with friends and relatives in a second ceremony next March in Ohio. The couple attempted to pull off the ceremony without anyone finding out, but word leaked out in a hurry in Green Bay.

"That kind of got out, which is fine," Hawk said. "We're happy. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. We're still going to have our big celebration next March.

Now that Hawk cleared two big hurdles in his life, he can move on to playing the game he loves most – football.

"He got paid real good," fellow Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said. "But I don't think he's even thinking about how much that is. I don't think the money will affect him one bit. He loves football. That's what he's about."

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