Releasing Bishop Stands in Contrast to Focus

LB Desmond Bishop (Tom Hauck/Getty)

The Packers are trying to force more fumbles and Desmond Bishop and Charles Woodson were two of the best on the team. Thus, a report of Bishop's possible release makes little sense, beyond dollars and cents.

The Green Bay Packers are considering releasing standout inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, according to ESPN Milwaukee's Jason Wilde.

The Packers tried to deal Bishop before Day 3 of April's draft, a source told Packer Report at the time, with the Bears, Saints and Giants among the teams interested. Nothing happened then and almost nothing has happened since, with Bishop being held out of all of the offseason work after missing all of last season with a torn hamstring.

"The injury is 100 percent," Bishop said on May 28. "It's the inside of my hammy. It's just the process of getting the lateral and the inside working together. I'm really close, though."

Neither Bishop nor his agent, Blake Baratz, responded to e-mail messages.

Bishop has cap numbers of $4.464 million for 2013 and $4.822 million for 2014. The Packers have no immediate cap issues but among those playing with expiring contracts are Jermichael Finley, Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, James Jones, John Kuhn and Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Money or injuries must be a major part of the Packers' reasoning, with Bishop having missed three games in 2012 with an injured calf. Few players, however, can match Bishop's production. In 2011, he led the team with 142 tackles and added five sacks.

A decision to release Bishop is an odd juxtaposition with the team's focus on forcing more fumbles. From 2008 through 2011, Bishop forced seven fumbles. Charles Woodson 11 forced fumbles during the four-year span of 2009 through 2012. If Bishop is released, that would leave the Packers without two of their top three performers in terms of forced fumbles. Over the last four seasons, Clay Matthews forced seven, Morgan Burnett four and nobody else on the roster more than one.

A.J. Hawk, with 107 career starts, forced one fumble in 2006 and one in 2007 and zero over the last five seasons.

Inside linebacker is one of the Packers' deepest positions. Hawk and Brad Jones were last year's starters. They're both signed through 2015 with a combined average cap charge of $8.88 million and a combined $5.21 million guaranteed. Three picks were surrendered to move up to get Terrell Manning in the fifth round of the 2012 draft and a seventh-round pick was used in 2013 on Sam Barrington. Jamari Lattimore and Robert Francois are key special-teams players, and inside linebackers coach Winston Moss spoke highly of Lattimore last week.

"Right now, I see what's in front of me: I see a season, I see my teammates, I see a team I want to make and I see special teams," Manning told Packer Report on Tuesday if a starting job was his goal for training camp. "Right now, those are the realistic goals that are in front of me. Obviously, if an opportunity presents itself, I want to be that guy."

Said Moss of his depth chart: "It's a really good group and they're working their (butts) off to try to make this thing the best that they can make it."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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