Why Releasing Desmond Bishop Makes Sense For The Packers

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Packers LB Desmond Bishop might be staring down offenses for another team if reports of his pending release are true.

If the reports are true, another member of the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl XLV-winning team is on his way out of Titletown.

Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee tweeted Tuesday evening that, barring a trade or a restructured deal, that the Packers will likely be parting ways with ILB Desmond Bishop. It’s not clear what is propelling Green Bay to release Bishop, but Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted that the release is part of a “numbers game.”

Packer Nation immediately went into an uproar, judging by fans’ reactions on Twitter. Cheeseheads everywhere were stunned the Packers would release arguably their best inside linebacker. Their argument was that if Green Bay really wanted to become more tough and physical, especially on defense, cutting ties with Bishop sends the opposite signal.

It’s a valid point. The Packers were missing Bishop’s physical presence last year when he went down or the year after tearing his hamstring in the preseason. He’s also a fan favorite on defense and releasing him makes little sense to many of the Packer faithful.

That said, releasing Bishop may actually be a much better move than many think.

First is that he is still recovering from his hamstring tear. Bishop may say that he feels fine and is close to being all the way back physically, but the truth is a full tear can have a long term impact on a player’s career. Bishop, at 29, in theory should be at the prime of his career but thanks to the hamstring tear, there is a decent chance that his prime just got shorter.

Along with his recovery from injury, there is also Bishop’s cap hit to consider. His cap hit this season according to Spotrac is $4.76 million and it goes up to $4.82 million before Bishop would be an unrestricted free agent in 2015. Before his injury, he easily deserved every dollar. Now recovering from this injury while approaching his 30th birthday, the Packers apparently feel the money can be better spent elsewhere.

Yes, Bishop was a key player in Green Bay’s run to the Super Bowl XLV title and fans are pointing to that as a reason why he shouldn’t be cut. It’s understandable why fans think that’s important but keep in mind that was nearly three years ago now. That’s an eternity in the NFL.

From general manager Ted Thompson’s point of view, Bishop had a good 2010, regressed a bit in 2011 (as did the defense overall), and missed all of 2012 with an injury with potential long term complications.

Looking at it that way, it becomes clearer as to why the Packers seem comfortable letting Bishop go. It is a roll of the dice for Thompson, especially given the defense’s struggles. However, there are still pieces on the roster that can be viable replacements or perhaps even improvements.

So why not let Bishop compete in training camp? That question is tougher to answer. Perhaps the Packers are trying to help him by seeing if he can land a team before camp even opens. Now would be a better time for a team to add a linebacker than once training camp and installation of the defensive playbook has already gotten underway.

If Bishop is gone, that means Green Bay likely will go with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones as the starting inside linebackers in the base defense. On the surface, this may make many fans cringe at the thought but look at the big picture here. Hawk had his best season as a pro in 2012 and actually plays a vital role as the “mike” linebacker who calls plays for the defense.

Hawk will more likely never be a big playmaking linebacker, but with Clay Matthews and Nick Perry on the outside he doesn’t need to be.

Jones, meanwhile, is the unknown element. He made the move from outside linebacker to inside last season thanks to the outbreak of injuries at the position. Jones held his own, but apparent issues with tackling left a lot to be desired in the eyes of fans.

The Packers clearly saw more in Jones than fans did. They had Hawk take a pay cut and signed Jones to a new three-year $11.75 million contract. Now they apparently want to release Bishop.

There must be something with this Jones guy.

Pro Football Focus named Jones a “secret superstar” in an article last month and said they thought he played decently in all aspects of the game. They also note that Jones deflected 6.8% of the passes thrown his way and while Jones allowed completions, he often was able to quickly wrap the receiver up resulting in a minimal gain and a successful play for the defense.

Remember that playoff blowout against the San Francisco 49ers? While the entire defense had a very poor game, Jones did have a couple key stops of Colin Kapernick that made the offense fail to convert a third down. That shows that he has the potential to help stop the run option, which coach Mike McCarthy made clear was one of his teams’ top offseason priorities.

Don’t discount sixth-round draft pick Nate Palmer either. As our own Jersey Al noted, Green Bay clearly saw something in Palmer leading up to the draft to warrant his selection. Illinois State isn’t exactly a college football powerhouse but Thompson is one of the league’s best judges of talent.

Palmer very well could come out of nowhere and surprise in training camp and the preseason, much like another sixth round pick a few years ago.

That sixth round pick’s name? Desmond Bishop.

Moves like this are always tough to deal with because the player is so popular with fans, but those same fans also know to trust Thompson’s judgment. This will be a tough one to swallow, especially given the Packers’ recent struggles on defense.

“In Ted We Trust” is being tested again. Fans will just have to wait and see if they will still rally around that mantra in 2013.


Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.


50 thoughts on “Why Releasing Desmond Bishop Makes Sense For The Packers

  1. Perhaps this is one result of the post-season investigation carried out by MM and team. They looked at what they needed to change to be healthier as a team after the many injuries in two of the last three years.

    I’m guessing there is now a greater determination to move on from injured players. Derek Sherrod watch out !

  2. Keeping Hawk and cutting Bishop. I’ve seen it all now. I hope this move comes back to haunt Thompson for the rest of time.

    1. Despite some peoples’ objections last time I said it, I’ll say it again:


      See? I can spot’em from a mile away. This douche isn’t pro-packers, he’s anti-TT. What kind of Packers fan would “hope” that their GM made a horrible decision?!

      1. Oppy, while I can’t speak for Archie himself, my understanding of his post isn’t that he hopes that GM TT made a horrible decision; rather, that he hopes that TT is “haunted” by his horrible decision.

        Archie certainly is entitled to his opinion. I think that one is childish to call him names if one disagrees with it.

        1. A decision will only haunt a man if it is a bad one.

          If it is a bad decision, that would mean that Bishop goes on to be more successful than the ones who were kept.

          This is simple logic. The man wants failure to spite TT’s decision.

          Use your thinking cap.
          Figure. it. out.

          1. To put it simply, shouldn’t a pro-packers fan say, “I feel this is a lousy decision. I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt TT for the rest of his days.”?

            That would still voice displeasure, but also suggest that despite what he feels is a bad decision, he’s still sincerely hoping that the GM HASN’T made a horrible mistake, and by extension, the team hasn’t been weakened.

            Still don’t see the douchey-ness? Oh well, to each his own. I can spot a bite-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face guy when I see one. Archie fits the mold.

            1. Congratulations Oppy! You’ve invented a new word, “douchey-ness,” and successfully defined it by example as “the ability to self-rationalize the immature expression of an insult.”

      2. Oppy, sometimes out emotions get the best of us. I’ve read other posts by Archie and most of the time there well thought out posts of the mans opinion. While I agree this one is a bit dramatic, I would think he feels it will come back and haunt Ted T and not hope it does so much. At least that’s what I would think. Clearly Archie is not a huge fan of Ted T. Hell, neither am I if you look at him as a what have you done for me lately. But the one thing I think Ted T does better than any other G.M. in the NFL is manage the cap. The true cap test will come after this season. With so many key players coming up on being a free agents. With that said, I personally hate the move with Bishop and have this sick, horrible feeling if he is cut, he’ll be a Minnesota Viking in 37 seconds. While I understand the cap issues and how difficult this injury is to come back from, I’ll never understand the love affair Ted T. has with A.J. Hawk. I get the cap hit, the financial benefits of cutting Bishop over Hawk, but in this case, I’d like to see it be about who the better football player is.

  3. Along with his contract numbers… His dead money is only $1.8M compared to his $4.76M cap hit. By cutting him now, they can split that dead money over the next two years, which means they could potentially save $3.86M in space this year.

    I still think this is rather shocking, though. Despite all the reasons mentioned above for releasing him, I think the defense missed having him on the field last year.

    1. No doubt they missed him on the field. This is largely about the type of injury he had. He didn’t just have a torn hamstring, Matthews gets those and they heal. But Bishops hamstring got torn away from the bone. There is no way to adequately duplicate the organic way a bone and tendon fuse together. Its reattached synthetically, but will never be the same and is highly likely to get torn away again if he continues to play football. It will likely be a career ending injury, whether a team signs him, its still likely to get torn again, which will effectively end his career. And its more likely to happen sooner than later, unfortunately.

      1. At 29 and this type of injury…I’m sorry but the team must move on. The window is only five years or so and the time is now. The money is better spent on getting a few key healthy (younger) players tied up for next four years. We won the division last year w/o bishop.

        Yes he gave us a great 1 1/2 years but let’s not do the Driver thing for it.

  4. Have any of you given thought to the notion that the “about numbers not health” is a smokescreen to hopefully get someone to offer something for him? In this league, there is a fine line between healthy/hurt. Fractions of a second can make a big difference between success/failure. My guess is that even though Bishop feels he will be ready, the Packers doctors feel otherwise. The degree of angst/confusion about it surprises me most. Why are we so concerned about a LB that used to be “Mr. August” and had one and half good seasons. Someone else will step up. GoPack!

    1. I’m sure the coaches and front office aren’t making this decision lightly, so I concede to their reasons. (And no, they don’t ever tell us the full truth.)

      But injuries aside, Bishop played a significant role in their Super Bowl season.

  5. Bishop was easily their 2nd best LB after Matthews when he was healthy. I am a little surprised they didn’t carry him into TC to see if he could compete. If he was back to the player he was in 2011, I think he would have been their best ILB.

    However, the knock on him was always that he was a step slow. At 29 and coming off a hamstring tear, they must have felt like he was going to lose too much to remain effective. And I don’t think we can count out that they really liked the progress Terrell Manning made after recovering from the 2012 TC illness, in addition to drafting Palmer.

    1. Its unfortunate, but his chances of re-injuring the attachment to the bone is very high. This is usually a career ending injury. He’s still in the prime of his career, so if healthy he would still be a very good player.

      No doubt they are high on Manning as I’ve been since before we drafted him, but you don’t let players in their prime go w/o good reason and his injury is that.

  6. We just have to look down the road to see how Bears DT Tommie Harris was never the same when he tore his hamstring.
    Also, I don’t think the team can afford having over $10M tied up in Hawk, Jones, and Bishop. The money can be better used resigning Raji, Shields, Burnett et al. Plus, TT resigned ILB Francois and has Lattimore, last years 5th round Manning, and 7th round pick Sam Barrington in the mix.

    IIRC, Palmer is a OLB.

  7. If Bishop is not healthy, this move makes sense. Move on, and allow him to try and catch on before training camp begins.

    But if Bishop is 100% healthy, as Ty Dunne tweeted Bishop told him he is, this makes ZERO sense.


    No one is going to convince me that AJ Hawk and Brad Jones are better than a healthy Desmond Bishop. Not Ted Thompson. Not Mike McCarthy, and certainly not Dom Capers.

    PFF may say that Jones is a secret superstar. And that’s great. He’s also played ILB for a total of one year. One. He’s also been bounced around more than a basketball on a court during his career. From starter at OLB to not starting to almost getting cut to backup ILB to starting ILB in a matter of 4 years. And now he’s a star in the making?

    Maybe, just throwing this out there, he played his best football last year, knowing that if he didn’t play well, he would no longer be a Packer and would be looking for a job.

    And he was rewarded with a fat raise and a starting spot after one year.

    The Packers have been criticized for being soft, not physical enough. So how do they respond? By potentially cutting their best ILB from 2 years ago, a proven thumper in the middle of the field. Yep-makes tons of sense.

    And why now? Why release Bishop now? Without even bringing him to camp? Guess McCarthy and Capers are really confident in their backups. Who are the backups again? Manning (unproven) Palmer (rookie) and…Guess I’ll just cross my fingers no one gets hurt

    If Bishop isn’t healthy, I’m completely fine with this move. But if he is healthy, and this move is being done for financial reasons, I have major, major issues with that.

    1. I like Bishop and wish this didn’t have to happen. I wonder if this injury is similar to an ACL. The player returns but it really takes 18 to 24 months to get the explosiveness back.

      RE Jones at OLB consider it a failed experiment. The team thought Jones could add weight and play OLB. MM admitted it was a mistake so they moved the slimmed down Jones to ILB where he’s played well.

      Jones resigning and Hawk’s restructuring ensured they were going to play…a 30 yr old coming off major surgery not so sure.

      1. No its not like an ACL. An ACL isn’t likely to get torn again. The injury Bishop has is very likely to get torn away again. Hence, the reason he is going to be released. Its usually a career ending injury.

        1. Bishop “tweets” and says he is 100%. Of course that is what he is going to say. If he’s not 100% he knows he is as good as gone. Stroh is correct that a torn away hamstring can only be mechanically reconnected. It is never as fully integrated as the way the body utilizes connective tissue naturally. For those of you that have said “IF he was 100%” this was a mistake. There in lies the hitch, he was not going to be now or most likely ever back to 100%. Just another smart financial decision that needed to be made. Thankfully TT is that cold and heartless. GoPack!

          1. TT knows he has five years with the team making playoffs and SB runs. He needs to be cold and heartless. I loved Bishop’s play but we need 100% healthy players (without question) and the current players won the division last year (w/o bishop) by the way.

          2. Well put, SchenySchen. I can’t believe it took this long for someone to point out what I thought immediately on hearing the news on the radio yesterday: “Well, of course Bishop says he’s 100%. Duh!”

            Desmond Bishop’s greatest promoter has always been Desmond Bishop. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, the man has a healthy self-esteem and understands football is a business and he is a commodity. That’s as it should be.

            But you only need to look at his quote that he thinks he can be DPOY, and you have to question whether he’s been drinking a little too much of his own Kool-Aid. As soon as I read that a few weeks back, I thought, “Yeeeeah… Desmond isn’t going to be back to 100%.” If he was, he wouldn’t need to use absurd hyperbole to assure us that he was.

            Good player, colorful guy, time to move onl

      1. He’s actually a DE converting to LB. Looking at him as an OLB first, but like Kris said, above, he’s a possibility for ILB also.

        1. I don’t see him getting moved to ILB. They did w/ Lattimore and Jones cuz neither could gain the size to play OLB at 250. Palmer is already 250 and might be able to add a little more weight. Plus he is a much better pass rusher than Jones or Lattimore were.

  8. A coupla thoughts here:

    1) I wish that Ron Wolf would have taught TT about horse trading as well as he taught him scouting. TT seems like he can deal picks with the best of them, but players not so much. But then, trading a lame horse is tough for anyone.

    2) I wonder when the NFLPA is going to get the long view and realize that if they turn the NFL into a ‘transient’ league ala the NBA, it is going to have a negative impact on the fan associations with players? Or maybe I just fail to comprehend that it’s all about churn these days and the half life of a player’s time with any single team is one contract. Sure has to be a boost for jersey sales though.

    1. Savage: You’ve made some very valid and insightful points. I wonder whether there will be as many “Tebow” jersies sold in Boston as there were in NYC or Denver? And, where is Ron Wolf now that we need him?

      P.S. I hope TT doesn’t pick-up Urlacher on the cheap to fill the void.

      1. . . . like he did last year with Jeff Saturday to fill the void at center.

        1. That Saturday pick up was paid back by indy giving our OLB 15 Million bucks and the Pack getting a pick next year.

    2. Trades are very difficult for established NFL players due to the salary cap ramifications. If a player is traded his signing bonus accelerates into the current year. Its one reason Wolf retired. Player for player trades are very difficult unless they are on rookie contracts so the cap hit/dead money is minimal.

  9. This is making me uneasy because a Desmond Bishop/Brad Jones pairing on the inside hasn’t been tested yet. If the Packers are willing to part ways with Bishop, they should be equally willing to part ways with Hawk. IMO, it is too soon to make this decision.

    1. They are doing it becuz he is highly likely to have the same injury occur again. And if it does its ends his career. This is an injury that typically ends a players career. The chances of being able to have a successful career are slim at best. Sooner or later he will suffer the same injury, its more likely to happen sooner than later too. Its a shame for Bishop, but that’s the reality.

  10. Based on on the timing of the release (should it happen soon), it has to be medical. Bishop’s guaranteed money this year is likely to have already been paid, which makes sense if the Packers are trying to save money. Also, with a 90 man roster, there’s isn’t much of a disadvantage of keeping a injured player, also keep in mind that the Packers released Nick Barnett, Brandon Chillar and DJ Smith in similar situations. Whether Smith manages to recover and be a productive LB remains to be seen, but the Packers probably made the right call with Barnett and definitely with Chillar

  11. Since the Packers apparently want to restructure, this seems to be more about money and less about Bishop’s health.

    It’s a shame those mega contracts are pricing guys out and very disheartening to me.

    I understand the desire to be financially secure but I don’t know, this whole giant contract thing just seems gross to me. Against the Packers mythos or something.

    Wish people would realize there are more important things than money or at least after so many millions, you reach diminishing returns.

    1. They might be willing to re-structure, but the release is due to the fact that his injury is very likely to happen again and sooner rather than later. If he re-injures it they are again stuck paying him 3.5M while on IR, for an injury they were aware was likely to recur.

  12. I agree the defense would have been better last year with a healthy Bishop. Here are the questions though.
    – How much better will the defense be in 2013 with a healthy Bishop over a healthy Jones?
    – How likely is it that at age 29, Bishop will regain his 2010 form?
    – Is this worth $3 million + to the Packers?

    No doubt, the defense needs to perform better in 2013 than it did against Minnesota and SF at the end of the year. I think they get this improvement from:
    – Adding 2 #1 picks to the mix – D Jones and Perry
    – Improvement from a few of last year’s rookies – McMillian, Hayward, Daniels
    – Better preparation for the read-option (the coaching staff spent a week studying it)
    – Motivated vets in the last year of their contract – Raji, Neal, Burnett, Shields, Pickett

  13. I am not 100% certain but about99.9999% certain that Hawk no longer called the plays on defense. At least by the end of the year, it was Jones. I remember reading it from one of the coaches quotes last year or early this year. Also if you watch the film you can see the huddle around Jones, and Hawk wasnt always on the field for all 3 downs.

  14. Don’t forget the obvious: we will still get to watch Bishop play twice a year when we go up against Minnesota.

  15. So they’re going to go with a second year player, who may or may not be able to play, and Brad Jones, a career backup, AJ Hawk, who’s useless. And McCarthy wonders why the whole world thinks his team is soft! The only reason to release Bishop is if he hasn’t or won’t recover from last years injury. The Packers seem to let every player that has a serious injury take 2-4 years, but not Bishop? The only ILB that can both tackle and hit!

    1. Its becuz Bishops injury is very likely to recur again. And when it does his career is over. Its not just a matter of it needing to heal, but that its very likely to happen again, which would end his career.

  16. “Hawk had his best season as a pro in 2012” 81 tackles, 3 sacks, 0 forced fumbles, 0 interceptions. This, THIS is his “best season?” In the 3-4, the ILB is supposed to be THE MAN. Everything in the defense funnels stat’s to the ILB. And all he could manage was 81 tackles and 3 sacks? And that is a good year?

    The enduring image I have of AJ Hawk, is of him making a tackle after a 5 yard gain, and getting dragged for 5 yards more. THAT, is AJ Hawk to a T.

  17. It’s all about health, period.

    The Packers have been actively attempting to restructure Bishop’s contract, so clearly, they WANT to KEEP him, or they wouldn’t bother- they’d either attempt to trade him or cut him outright, no need to fiddle with the numbers.

    So, it’s strictly that they aren’t confident that Bishop will perform to his pay on his hamstring, or that he won’t be on the field enough to warrant his pay due to the hamstring.

    Even mild hamstring injuries can become chronic, nagging injuries that bench players repeatedly (see: Case study, Clay Matthews), and Bishop didn’t just pull or tweak his hammy.. That thing was full detachment, major injury.

    Love Bishop, hope he will restructure and stay with the Packers, wish him the best if they trade/cut him, hope he has a full recovery and kicks ass either way.. But this is just smart business.

  18. It’s a tough call period. I really believe that Bishop should be given a chance at training camp.He deserves a look.You never want a rough linebacker to make it with a division opponent. There is nothing wrong with the Pack at least seeing if he could prove his body has recovered.I think the F.O.is being a little hasty in this move.

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