Bishop Likely Another Feather in Ted Thompson’s Cap All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Desmond Bishop
Bishop’s release signals the Packers waning patience for health issues

As we are in the slower part of the 2013 NFL preseason, I thought I’d take another stab at what the Green Bay Packers’ release of linebacker Desmond Bishop is really about and what it means for the Packers in moving forward.

Bishop’s deal with the Minnesota Vikings is for one year at $750,000 with just $50,000 guaranteed.  Bishop can earn a total of $1.35 million through bonuses and incentives.  This includes $100,000 in roster bonuses, and $500,000 in incentives dependent on his playing time.

Bishop is another in an increasing line of former Packers to sign with the division-rival Vikings.  Should he defy the odds and become productive, the Packers, and specifically General Manager Ted Thompson, could face some criticism for being quick to pull the trigger on letting him go before taking a look at him in training camp.  Many fans are still riled up that another has crossed the border to the West where they could end up playing well against and sticking it to the Packers.  Still, Thompson continues to, and has marched to the beat of his own drum when it comes to doing what he sees as best for the Packers.

The deal that Bishop inked with the Vikings certainly falls into the “low risk” category.  If healthy, he would immediately upgrade Minnesota’s linebacking core and defense as a whole.  The key there is the “if healthy” part.  But if a player of Bishop’s caliber was willing to accept such a deal, why wouldn’t Thompson at least have kicked the tires a bit longer?  After all, this was one of the team’s best defensive players just two seasons ago.  Sure, he missed all of last season with the torn hamstring, but if the risk was minimal, why send Bish packing?  Some will say his ego would not allow him to take a pay cut with the Packers, but the deal he inked with the Vikings has to suggest that he would have been open to at least some discussion.

In recent years, the Packers have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries.  Thompson has surely been tested with the constant revolving door that his team has become, at times.  Through this adversity, he seems to have learned to take a more proactive approach to protecting against further injury problems.  Since winning their latest Super Bowl in 2010, the Packers have been less reluctant to part with veterans who had been dealing with some injuries but seemingly still had some gas left in the tank.  Albeit the circumstances were different for each, Greg Jennings and Nick Barnett most recently come to mind.

Just how much is left in Bishop’s tank is still a rather big question mark.  His hamstring was completely detached from the bone.  That is no small ailment and according to several medical specialists, Bishop’s chances of returning to his 2011 form are not great, even at his young age (he turns 29 in July).

Thompson knows that he is in the best window of opportunity to capture some of the best years that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has left.  His decisions need to hinge on getting his most talented players on the field to make that most of that opportunity.  While many question just how effective the tandem of A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones can be in the middle, the team clearly feels they are the best options right now.  Veterans Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, and second-year linebacker Terrell Manning will all get a chance to have their say in the competition for playing time at inside backer too.  Throw in rookie draft picks Nate Palmer and Sam Barrington, and there are a lot of new faces that the Packers need to evaluate.

Thompson simply couldn’t gamble on a big “maybe” in Bishop and take away valuable reps to these other guys.  Hawk and Jones have proven to be durable and available week in and week out, if nothing else.  Earlier I mentioned the team’s health issues and by the contract they just gave to Jones, it is clear that this team places a high premium on players who can suit up and play on Sundays.  In fact, I expect to see some interesting decisions come down with players such as tight end Andrew Quarless and offensive lineman Derek Sherrod, who, like Bishop, both missed all of last season due to injury.  Quarless is no lock to make this year’s roster and despite being a first round pick just two years ago, Sherrod may end up a casualty of an unfortunate and nasty injury that could greatly diminish his value.

In addition to making room for the younger and healtier guys to get a look in practice, Thompson also saved an additional $3.5 million in salary cap space by releasing Bishop.  Bishop will count $800,000 against the team’s 2013 salary cap.  After signing Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews to their mega deals this past offseason, the Packers will again be facing some decision for this year’s upcoming free agent crop.

B.J. Raji, James Jones, Jermicheal Finley and Morgan Burnett headline the list with several others such as Ryan Pickett, John Kuhn, Sam Shields and Mike Neal also set to enter free agency after the 2013 season.  By not signing any of these players (Shields being an exception as a restricted free agent, but the team held firm on offering just the one-year tender), Thompson is stating that he either plans to let some test the free agent market or he still wants to see what he has in some of them.   He also likes to play the “wait and see” game as he evaluates what the team has at some of these positions and as opposed to some of the incumbents.  This year’s training camp is going to carry some good story lines as far as position battles go, moreso than in recent years.

Still, and regardless of the player, Thompson has his price on each and he has a history of drawing that line in the sand that he refuses to cross.  One thing is certain and that is that the Packers have remained competitive in nearly every season that Thompson has been GM.  He’s doing something right and I trust that, at least on paper, he will continue to do so into the future.  Even if that means making the unpopular decisions and parting ways with some fan favorites before their playing days are over.

Above all, I am reminded of what has become a popular saying in Green Bay over the past few seasons:  In Ted we trust.  There are always room for questions, but it still stands to reason that if history repeats itself, the Packers should come out ahead following the Bishop decision.  That would most likely put them in the thick of another playoff chase in 2013 and primed to keep more of their core together for sustained success in the next several seasons.




Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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30 thoughts on “Bishop Likely Another Feather in Ted Thompson’s Cap

  1. Its about the risk of reinjury. Bishops is extremely high Sherrod and Quarless are very low.

    1. Besides seeing enough from the non-starters in the off season and needing the money for pending FA’s it’s also more than the risk of re-injury. Bishop may be “healed” but has lost his explosion ala Bear Tommie Harris who was never the same after a similar injury or it’ll take more than a year to get it back so why wait. (This was the aspect I was comparing this injury to vs the ACL in a previous Bishop post.

      1. Wasn’t aware that Harris had the same injury. That being said, if the risk of injury was minimal, IMO the Packers would have brought Bishop back to give him a chance to prove himself. So while he may not have been the same after the injury, the risk of re-injury was the over-riding factor in his release. Like I said, IMO, they would have given him a chance to see what he could do. Re-injury was probably the main reason.

    2. A healthy Sherrod is still terrible.

      #Quarless2013 #downvotemeallyouwant #hashtag

      1. And you know this how? By watching him when he had very little knowledge of the playbook, as a Rookie and getting very little practice time during an abbreviated offseason and during a season when only the starters get any meaningful practice time? Yeah of course he looked terrible, he had every disadvantage stacked against him! Did you know Bulaga didn’t start as a rookie either except due to injury later in the year and even he looked awful at time as a rookie and didn’t have all the disadvantages against him!

  2. good article – just one correction, Quarless was a 5th round pick – albeit one that presumable should have gone higher.

  3. “Earlier I mentioned the team’s health issues and by the contract they just gave to Jones, it is clear that this team places a high premium on players who can suit up and play on Sundays.”

    MM has said repeatedly: It matters who shows up on SUNDAY!

    TT actions and MM’s words are in sync. I for one applaud them.

    Good article – jason.

    1. Thanks Pat! We always get some good insight from our fans here (unless we start talking about Favre, Thompson or bringing back Charles Wooodson;)

  4. In spite of having the best quarterback in football, TT has been to fewer Super Bowls than Ron Wolf… and he’s been GM for longer than Wolf! TT is a one-trick pony, and will never be a great GM because of it.

    1. How many SB did Wolf win? Remind me please… Its not about how many you get to its about how many you win. Hasn’t Thompson been to more NFC Championship games? Then by that measure you could say Thompson is better.

      In the end. Both are terrific GM’s. The landscape has changed and was a primary reason Wolf retired. Its extremely difficult to make trades now and the salary cap restricts player acquisition both via FA and trades. Thompson just has more restrictive environment than Wolf did. That’s not his fault. But go ahead and blame him anyway.

    2. Again, how many SB has Peyton Manning played in over his lengthy NFL career?

      A great QB is no guarantee of SB appearances. Comments such as this smack of entitlement.

  5. It is true that TT is a ‘one trick pony’, but he is so good at that one trick that the other short-comings can be over-looked.

    You know that saying, “you can’t argue with results?” Why then, when Thompson acheives them do people want to argue them?

    Given what we’ve seen across the league over the last several years, the Packers performance in the same time frame and the hiring of TT’s former staff to equate to 10% of NFL GM’s, I gotta say sticking with TT is the smart money bet these days.

  6. Jason, you wrote:

    “But if a player of Bishop’s caliber was willing to accept such a deal, why wouldn’t Thompson at least have kicked the tires a bit longer?… Some will say his ego would not allow him to take a pay cut with the Packers, but the deal he inked with the Vikings has to suggest that he would have been open to at least some discussion.”

    I’m one of the some who’d say… And I definitely believe Bishop indeed was open to at least some discussion about taking a pay cut:

    “The team will release the inside linebacker if they’re unable to restructure his deal or pull off a trade, a league source confirmed.”

    ““It’s not necessarily over,” Bishop said. “There’s an outside chance that I could still be a Packer. So we still have a good relationship. … If I don’t get the right compensation, I’d rather be in a familiar place.”

    Just don’t get the wrong impression. If he can start on a defense elsewhere, he’ll jump at the opportunity.”
    I see it being a real possibility that the Packers offered Bishop a comparable or even slightly better offer than what Bishop ended up getting from MIN, but Bishop, at the time, felt the Packers were severely undervaluing him, and secondly, did not care for the Packers plans as to how he would be utilized.

    The Packers have a long history of being conservative with play time for players returning from major injury, and I have a sneaking suspicion they told Bishop they planned on being extremely limiting on his PT throughout the first half of the season- probably told him that they’d assess his situation week to week and ease him back into the line-up as he progressed. Bishop may have decided he didn’t like the Packers contract numbers, but he left the door open to come back if the market did bear out the way he’d like. In this scenario, MIN could have offered him less than the GB was trying to restructure him for, but also told him that he’d be competing for a full-time, day one starting position, and Bishop jumped on the opportunity for immediate play time as the author of the article I sited suggested he might.

    In this situation, there is no conflict with the concept of the Packers actively attempting to restructure Bishop’s contract, Bishop being open to discussing a restructuring, yet unable to come to terms (partly due to ego) and leaving while ultimately taking what appears to be a basement-level contract from another team instead of staying with GB.. It could simply have been about perceived opportunity in MIN. The Ego may have already been bruised, but the opportunity may have been greater in MIN.

    1. I like the idea Oppy.

      1 problem. I seem to remember that Bishop’s camp was adamant that GB never actually threw any reduced figures his way.

      Seems they just didn’t want him anymore.

      1. I think the only way Bishop would be back in GB was if he got NO other offers in FA and he would have signed a vets min contract w/ no guaranteed money. Risk just too high for anything else IMO.

  7. Andrew Quarless not only makes this team, he will play a significant role and will be the #1 TE in 2014. All speculation that he could not make the team will vaporize when camp starts. He is back and ready to hit some people in the mouth.

  8. A healthy Bishop would provide their best inside rush option and interior run control, and unlike Hawk he stops backs in their tracks and makes turn over plays consistently. 3 Packers had the same injury and never played another snap in the NFL, Campen, Donofrio (high LB draft pick – next Nitschke), and Chillar. That to me is enough evidence to let him leave after shaking his hand and thanking him for being an outstanding Green Bay Packer. Also, people forget that Thompson built Holmgren’s Seattle Super Bowl team that got “jobbed” against the Steelers.

  9. Here’s the problem folks… Our expectations have risen so high that we won’t allow anything but a superbowl win. We must think back to the 70’s when a 3 win season was awesome. I believe TT is doing just fine, he is definately a egomaniac block head, but he is a winner…

    1. I agree with the “egomaniac block head” part. As for being a “winner,” I’ll reserve judgment on that until the end of the season. We’ll see if his moves were those of a winner or not. The schedule looks brutal. 10 – 6 and making the playoffs might be a good year.

      1. Actually, 10 – 6 might be a very, very good year! I certainly hope that we get into the SB this year because our prospects only get dimmer thereafter. Other teams are getting stronger and TT has missed-out on some very good players who could fill positions of recurring weakness in the last 2 drafts.

  10. I was recently talking to TT, and I was amazed at how humble he was, and how generously he praised his co-workers and associates.

    Maybe you misunderstood TT hen you guys were talking to him?

    1. I distinctly remember TT saying the last time I spoke with him, “We don’t need no stinkin’ Badgers.” That’s why he didn’t select Montee Ball in the draft and there are no Badgers on the Packers’ roster. You still think he’s a nice guy?

      1. If he thinks the program doesn’t produce players of the type they covet, then they shouldn’t draft them.

        1. Too serious of a reply, Dobber. See Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, which paraphrased lines from the Treasure of the Sierra Madre into the famous quote, “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”

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