MINNEAPOLIS -- The long-running ferry of players from Green Bay to Minneapolis could be gaining another passenger.
According to a league source, the Minnesota Vikings have expressed interest in former Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, who was released by the team on Feb. 25 after nine seasons in Green Bay. Hawk, who was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft, played in 142 and started 136 of a possible 144 regular-season games for the Packers, but was released to give the Packers an extra $3.5 million in cap space.
The 31-year-old Hawk had long been regarded as a steady linebacker, though he never reached the ceiling many expected he would hit after the Packers drafted him so highly. His play slipped noticeably in 2014, though, and his playing time diminished by Week 13 of the season. He didn't stay deep enough in coverage on the Seattle Seahawks' fake field goal in the NFC Championship Game, allowing Garry Gilliam to slip behind him for a touchdown and the Seahawks' first points of their comeback victory.
Hawk has long been regarded as a consummate pro, a hard-working linebacker who rarely is caught out of position, though it's uncertain how much he has left. If the Vikings think he can still contribute to their defense in his 10th season, they could sign him as a candidate to play middle linebacker.
Hawk reportedly has a visit scheduled with the Cincinnati Bengals, who run the same defense as the Vikings, and the Packers reportedly haven't closed the door on a potential return.
If Hawk does wind up in Minnesota, he'd join a long line of ex-Packers that includes Greg Jennings, Robert Ferguson, Desmond Bishop, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Longwell, Javon Walker, Darren Sharper -- and, of course, Brett Favre.