Make no bones about it, Desmond Bishop will be released by the Green Bay Packers because they think he’s not going to be the same player he once was after suffering a season-ending hamstring tear last season.
When news broke last evening that the Packers were planning to part ways Bishop, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tyler Dunne said he had been told it was part of a “numbers game.”
Have been told the Bishop situation is more “numbers game”-related than injury-related. They like Hawk and Jones. #packers
— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) June 12, 2013
It’s not as if I don’t believe Dunne or trust his reporting. I just think his source, presumably within the Packers organization, is being insincere.
The Packers can get away with saying such a thing, because whatever the reason for cutting Bishop––whether it’s injury related, contract related or depth related––they’re apparently going to go through with it anyway. They’ll be rolling with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones as the starting inside linebackers in 2013.
Logically, the only thing that makes sense to me is that Packers have monitored Bishop’s progress and rehab from last season’s injury and have determined they’re not going to see the 2010 and 2011 version of Bishop ever again.
It’s not the first time general manager Ted Thompson has parted ways with a player coming off a major injury. It’s probably not the tenth time. And in most cases, he ends up making the right decision. See Al Harris, Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher, Nick Collins, etc.
One difference between Bishop and players like Harris, Clifton and Tauscher, however, is that Bishop is still on the sunny side of 30. At 28 years old, it’s easy to assume Bishop still has at least two more productive years in him, which just so happens to be the length of his contract as it’s currently structured.
Scheduled to make approximately $3.4 million in base salary in 2013 and $3.5 million in 2014, Bishop’s contract is not exactly cost-prohibitive to a team that’s in excess of $10 million under the salary cap.
Sure, the money the Packers save in releasing Bishop will go towards contract extensions to players like B.J. Raji, Morgan Burnett and Sam Shields. But if the Packers can get the same production they got from Bishop prior to injury, he’s more than worth the price.
That’s the catch, however. Bishop is a big “if” in terms of coming back from injury and being an impact-type of player once again in the NFL.
By chance Bishop comes back and becomes a starter for another team in the NFL, by chance he comes back and is the same 115-tackle, five-sack type of guy he was in 2011, the Packers will have made a major mistake.
There’s no way a healthy Bishop isn’t a better option than Hawk, Jones or any other inside linebacker on the Packers roster.
The odds of seeing a healthy Bishop anymore, however, are not good.
Bishop might claim to be “completely” healthy and be “110 percent” by the time training camp begins, but that means a whole lot of nothing.
It’s quite possible Bishop is as healthy as he’s going to get. But it’s equally possible that Bishop that a healthy Bishop is only 85 percent of the player he once was in the prime of his career, because he more than likely has lost a step and won’t have the same speed.
The only way we’ll be able to tell is seeing if and when Bishop comes back and plays once again.
By saying Bishop was released as part of a “numbers game” can be viewed as a favor to a player of high character who has been loyal to the organization and not scare away other teams from signing him.
For the time being, Ted Thompson and the Packers front office gets the benefit of the doubt. But if he ends up being a quality starter for some other team in the NFL, this will perhaps end up being an inexcusable snafu.
For that, we wait.
Brian Carriveau is the author of “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email email@example.com.