Nick Barnett

Barnett's injury history might be what ultimately causes his exit.

The Green Bay Packers starting inside linebackers in 2011 will be [intlink id=”492″ type=”category”]Desmond Bishop[/intlink] and [intlink id=”80″ type=”category”]A.J. Hawk[/intlink].

That leaves [intlink id=”139″ type=”category”]Nick Barnett[/intlink] and [intlink id=”79″ type=”category”]Brandon Chillar[/intlink], both of whom are coming off season-ending injuries, in a precarious position.

The Packers have committed $10 million to Hawk, this season and Bishop will make more than $5 million. Barnett has a salary cap number north of $6 million and Chillar makes more than $5 million per season, after signing a four-year extension in 2009.

That’s a lot of money to pay two backups who play the same position, but while financials will surely play a role in who the Packers keep, so will how Barnett and Chillar come back from their injuries.

“We have to see how he comes off the wrist,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Same thing with Chillar. That’s his third shoulder surgery. You know how these things go. I’m glad we aren’t playing this week. The season we had, I spent too much time with the doctors.”

It’s hard to imagine the Packers getting rid of both players, but that’s certainly a possibility.

While 2010 taught the Packers how valuable depth is, it also showed everyone how valuable guys who can stay healthy are. Hawk and Bishop have proven they can stay healthy. Barnett and Chillar, on the other hand, have become injury prone.

That could ultimately be their undoing with the Green Bay Packers.