GREEN BAY, Wis. — The six-year relationship between the Green Bay Packers and inside linebacker Desmond Bishop appears to be heading for a split. According to multiple reports, the Packers plan to release or trade Bishop unless they can agree to a restructured contract soon.
Bishop, 28, is scheduled to make $3.46 million for the 2013 season and $3.52 million for the 2014 season as part of a four-year extension he signed with Green Bay in 2011.
Though Bishop missed all of last season with a torn hamstring, that is likely not the reason for this.
“I’ve got my strength back,” Bishop told FOXSportsWisconsin.com in April. “I’m ready. Every (medical) hurdle has been cleared. I can do everything.”
Therefore, the Packers are essentially choosing Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk as their starting inside linebackers over Bishop.
Green Bay showed its commitment to Jones earlier this offseason, re-signing him to a three-year, $11.75 million deal. Jones was only on the field last season because Bishop and top reserve D.J. Smith were both placed on injured reserve. Hawk was asked to restructure his contract in March and agreed to a significantly reduced amount.
The Packers have other options at inside linebacker, including 2012 fifth-round pick Terrell Manning, but he and the rest of that group behind Jones and Hawk are unproven.
Even Bishop himself was impressed with the team’s depth at inside linebacker.
“We have a good group, which is hats off to the guys upstairs, (general manager) Ted Thompson and those guys for bringing in good players,” Bishop told FOXSportsWisconsin.com in April. “It’s fun. In order to be a good player, you have to have good players around you. It kind of makes you step your game up.”
During the draft in April, NFL Network reported that Green Bay was taking trade calls on Bishop. When asked whether that was true, Thompson avoided a firm response.
“I’d never comment on anything (like that),” Thompson said at the time. “There are all kinds of conversations that go on with other teams and different people who do my job around the league leading up to draft time, and most of them wind up being nothing.”
When healthy, Bishop was one of the Packers’ most aggressive defensive players. He had his best statistical season in 2011 with 115 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles.
In 2010, Bishop had 103 tackles with three sacks and eight passes defensed. In that season’s Super Bowl XLV, Bishop recorded eight tackles, three tackles for loss and a key fumble recovery in Green Bay’s victory over Pittsburgh.
After watching from the sideline last season, Bishop was a bit critical of how Green Bay’s defense performed without him.
“Hopefully I can be infectious to the other guys with a sense of urgency and passion that you have to have in order to win,” Bishop told FOXSportsWisconsin.com in April. “I think that’s the biggest thing our defense lacked last year was that mindset. That’s what I want to bring this year for the team.
“I have a renewed sense of respect and urgency about the game. Looking at the guys, especially on defense, I can’t wait to get back and plant the seed that had been growing inside me from watching without being able to play.”
Bishop missed all of the Packers’ offseason training activities and minicamp practices in recent weeks, but that was mostly a precautionary measure.