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'Odd man out:' LB Desmond Bishop released by Packers

The Packers cut loose linebacker Desmond Bishop, their leading tackler from 2011.

GREEN BAY, Wis. --  Desmond Bishop understands why the Green Bay Packers decided to release him Monday afternoon. 

As Bishop worked his way back from a torn hamstring that sidelined him for the entire 2012 season, the 28-year-old inside linebacker "kind of saw the writing on the wall." Though Bishop hoped he was wrong, the Packers parted ways with their leading tackler from the 2011 season. 

"I think it was just a result of a few factors," Bishop told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. "From a business standpoint, as the Packers organization, I could see the logic (in being released). It was a business move. I'm kind of the odd man out this time." 

In Bishop's absence last season, Brad Jones got a chance to step into the starting lineup in Green Bay's defense and performed well. So well, in fact, that the Packers signed Jones to a three-year, $11.75 million deal in March. Green Bay also restructured the contract of 16-game starter A.J. Hawk to a reduced amount this offseason, leaving Bishop a bit vulnerable. 

"Just looking at it from my perspective, why would you pay three guys a significant amount of money when only two can play," Bishop said. "Why do that? They (Jones and Hawk) both had a good year. That's my logic with it." 

Bishop was scheduled to earn $3.46 million in 2013 and $3.52 in 2014 as part of the four-year deal he signed in 2011. The Packers never discussed a contract restructuring with Bishop, instead opting to just release him. 

While the Packers will only have $800,000 of that count against their 2014 cap space, Bishop is now an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team. 

Bishop's first stop will be Tuesday with the Minnesota Vikings. 

"In my heart, I think I'll always be a Packer, even if I never play for the Packers again," Bishop said. "Right now, it's a little difficult, it's a little weird thinking about dressing up in a different uniform. But, it is what it is." 

Bishop wants to make it perfectly clear to the Vikings and the number of other teams that he said have already shown interest in signing him: He is healthy and completely recovered from the hamstring tear that he suffered in August 2012. Bishop did sit out during Green Bay's offseason training activities and minicamp practices, but that was not related to his previous injury. 

"I think it's a big misconception going around about the reason I didn't participate, but it wasn't about my surgery," Bishop said. "That's 100 percent healed. That was my tendon. That's healed. But what happened was I strained my hamstring; a slight strain on the inside. That is what held me out. That's a couple-week injury with treatment. Getting that strong, that's not even a factor anymore. It's been several weeks where I've been running and working. 

"If training camp was tomorrow, I'd be a full participant." 

Bishop does believe that his injury played into why the Packers essentially chose Jones over him. 

"If you have a player coming off injury and a player who just had a decent year, who do you let go?," Bishop said. "You've got the sure thing versus the thing you have to put some faith in. They went with Brad, and that's understandable. I don't think it was the biggest factor, but injury had a part in it." 

Bishop's name was in trade rumors during the NFL Draft, but general manager Ted Thompson was unable to find a team to make a deal with over the past eight weeks. 

Even though the Packers released Bishop now, he wouldn't rule out a possible return to Green Bay before the 2013 season begins. However, that wouldn't be his preference. 

"It's definitely a possibility," Bishop said. "Honestly, if there's a chance to remain a Packer, I would definitely want to. But, if it came to that, I don't think I would be the happiest person because the only way I can come back and sit at the table with the Packers is if nobody else is willing to compensate me. 

"If that's the case, I probably would go back with the Packers because there's a lot of familiarity with everything from management to coaches to players to the community. I think that would be the best fit (under that scenario). 

"But at this point, you don't want it to come to that. Hopefully somebody can compensate me and put me in the right situation. If not, I understand it's part of the business and part of the job." 

Bishop, a sixth-round pick by Green Bay in 2007, accumulated 292 tackles, nine sacks, nine passes defensed, one interception and eight forced fumbles during his six years with the Packers. 

As is the case with many injured NFL players, Bishop's hamstring tear in Week 1 of the 2012 preseason ended up being his last play in a Packers uniform. 

"We wouldn't be having this conversation if I wouldn't have gotten injured," Bishop said.


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