12

June

Why Releasing Desmond Bishop Makes Sense For The Packers

Packers LB Desmond Bishop might be staring down offenses for another team if reports of his pending release are true.

If the reports are true, another member of the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl XLV-winning team is on his way out of Titletown.

Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee tweeted Tuesday evening that, barring a trade or a restructured deal, that the Packers will likely be parting ways with ILB Desmond Bishop. It’s not clear what is propelling Green Bay to release Bishop, but Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted that the release is part of a “numbers game.”

Packer Nation immediately went into an uproar, judging by fans’ reactions on Twitter. Cheeseheads everywhere were stunned the Packers would release arguably their best inside linebacker. Their argument was that if Green Bay really wanted to become more tough and physical, especially on defense, cutting ties with Bishop sends the opposite signal.

It’s a valid point. The Packers were missing Bishop’s physical presence last year when he went down or the year after tearing his hamstring in the preseason. He’s also a fan favorite on defense and releasing him makes little sense to many of the Packer faithful.

That said, releasing Bishop may actually be a much better move than many think.

First is that he is still recovering from his hamstring tear. Bishop may say that he feels fine and is close to being all the way back physically, but the truth is a full tear can have a long term impact on a player’s career. Bishop, at 29, in theory should be at the prime of his career but thanks to the hamstring tear, there is a decent chance that his prime just got shorter.

Along with his recovery from injury, there is also Bishop’s cap hit to consider. His cap hit this season according to Spotrac is $4.76 million and it goes up to $4.82 million before Bishop would be an unrestricted free agent in 2015. Before his injury, he easily deserved every dollar. Now recovering from this injury while approaching his 30th birthday, the Packers apparently feel the money can be better spent elsewhere.

2

June

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

I had an idea for a new Packers offseason gameshow while driving home from work today.

The first nine years of my adult life I had a job where I took a city bus to work. It was nice to not burn gas and spend half my salary on parking, but I always had to stay alert so I wouldn’t get stabbed. There are some, ahem, interesting people that rode the city bus on my route.

Now I have a job where I drive 30 minutes to work, in my own car. Yes, I’m burning gas (free parking, thankfully), but I don’t have to worry about getting stabbed. This frees up my brain and allows me to think of all kinds of silly things, like my idea for a Packers offseason gameshow.

I’ve already filmed the pilot episode, and am ready to share the transcript with all of you today. I brought back the ghost of Richard Dawson to host my show, mainly because I crack up whenever I see old Family Feud episodes when Dawson tries to make out with all the female contestants.

The name of the show is Will Johnny Jolly Play for the Packers Before…

Enjoy.

Richard Dawson: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to everyone’s favorite new favorite game show! The object of the game is to guess if Johnny Jolly will play a regular season snap for the Packers before another player currently on the Packers roster. It sounds confusing, but it’s not.

Even people who read Packers blogs should be able to understand it and play along at home. Let’s get started.

Female Contestant No. 1: I’m ready, Richard.

(Dawson leans in and gets a smooch)

Dawson: Will Johnny Jolly play a regular season snap for the Packers before running back James Starks?

Female Contestant No. 1: Oh, that’s a tough one. I wish Jolly participated in OTAs this week so we at least knew what kind of shape he’s in. But the injury-prone Starks could be on the chopping block with with Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin on the team. I’m going to say yes, Jolly will play for the Packers before Starks because Starks won’t make the team.

Dawson: That’s a logical answer. Time will tell if you’re right. And if you are right, you win an even longer kiss from me!

22

May

Packers LB Desmond Bishop: DPOY or Playing for a Different Team?

Desmond Bishop

Will Packers LB recover from his injury and be on the team come September?

This story from Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop is extremely well written. After reading it, you can’t help but like the guy even more than you probably already do.

In the story, Bishop says one of his goals is to win defensive player of the year in 2013.

Unfortunately, as entertaining as the story is, it doesn’t really address the main question I have about Bishop as the Packers open OTAs: What are the odds that he’s actually on the team once the season starts?

Reports surfaced during the NFL draft that the Packers were trying to trade Bishop. Several moves the Packers made in the offseason — bringing back A.J. Hawk, re-signing Brad Jones for $4 million, adding another inside linebacker in the draft — made it appear that the Packers might not be too confident in Bishop’s chances of returning from the torn hamstring he suffered last preseason.

“Trade or release Bishop?” you’re probably asking. “But I thought he was supposed to boost the Packers physicality and automatically improve the inside linebacker corp?”

In a perfect world, that’s exactly what would happen. But how perfect is the Packers’ world when it comes to injuries lately? Not very. J.C. Tretter, one of Green Bay’s fourth-round draft picks, just snapped his ankle in a fumble-recovery drill. Two of the past three seasons have seen the team ravaged by injuries. The scuttle around the Packers is that Ted Thompson won’t hesitate to jettison players who are hampered by injuries.

I suppose the release of D.J. Smith last month is a good sign for Bishop staying in Green Bay. Then again, Smith was also coming off a season-ending injury. Perhaps the Packers also won’t hesitate to cut ties with Bishop like they did with Smith if doubts about Bishop’s health linger further into the summer.

Look, it’s still May. This Bishop story has several chapters that have yet to be written. If you want to read another positive piece on Bishop’s outlook, check this out from Jason Hirschhorn at Acme Packing Company.

Dunne and Hirschhorn’s rosy outlook on Bishop could very well prove to be true. I hope it does. A healthy Bishop playing like he did in 2011 would do wonders for the defense.

21

May

Who Will Be The Biggest Addition to the 2013 Green Bay Packers?

Desmond Bishop

A healthy Desmond Bishop is likely to be the biggest boost to the 2013 Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers drafted two running backs in the first four rounds of this year’s draft after many had been calling for the team to find more production in the run game.  With the addition of draftees Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, some would argue that each will end up playing a key role in the 2013 Packers’ storyline.

With Packers GM Ted Thompson having once again been very quiet in free agency, the draft was seemingly the team’s biggest chance to add to their existing roster.  Those draft picks, along with a few undrafted free agents, have garnered a lot of attention.  Actually, they have seen nearly all of it this off season, minus a few tiny contract situations that were recently ironed out.

Lost in the shuffle of all that is new, it’s what is “old” that I am anticipating will make the biggest difference when the smoke clears and the 2013 season is in the books.

Linebacker Desmond Bishop emerged as one of the team’s top defensive players during the team’s 2010 Super Bowl season.  That year, Bishop jumped from a career high of 29 tackles to 75.  The increase in playing time was a factor, but it’s hard to argue that Bishop became one of the team’s most productive defenders until a torn hamstring ended his 2012 season.

Bishop suffered the injury in the team’s first preseason game and he was placed on season-ending injured reserve shortly thereafter.  It’s hard to argue that the team’s production at inside linebacker wasn’t less-than-stellar without Bishop last season.  He figures to be back in action this year and has said that he will be “110% ready” for training camp, which begins in late July.  There are still questions about Bishop’s recovery and whether he can return to that same productive form.  That remains to be seen, but Packers fans should remain hopeful.  A healthy Desmond Bishop would mean more to this team, in my opinion, than any other player that the team has added.

When running on all cylinders, Bishop is a fiery one-man wrecking machine.  Need a reminder?  Click here.

23

April

What Does the Packers Draft and Development Philosophy Mean to You?

Desmond Bishop is one player the Packers have drafted and developed.

Desmond Bishop is one player the Packers have drafted and developed.

An interesting discussion about the Packers draft and develop philosophy broke out in the comments section of this post the other day.

The basic question that came out of the discussion was this: What does draft and develop mean to you?

Draft and develop might mean different things to different people. The various meanings appear to include:

  • Having players on the roster who can immediately and adequately fill in when a starter is injured.
  • When an upper-echelon player leaves the team (for whatever reason), there’s another player on the roster than can immediately play at a similar level of the departed star.
  • Accumulating as much young talent as possible.

There is no right answer to the question, but if I had to select one of the above, I’d select the third option. However, that answer is a little broad. There isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t want to accumulate as much young talent as possible. That franchise goal isn’t unique to the Packers.

Perhaps I need to add a fourth option: Accumulating as much young talent as possible and having the patience to stick with that philosophy and actually make it work.

Draft and develop has paid off for the Packers because they didn’t ditch it at the first sign of trouble. It’s also worked because the front office appears to be on the same page as the coaching staff, which is a lot more rare than we think. (It’s also worked because the Packers have Aaron Rodgers.)

I picked a hybrid fourth option, but the first three options have merit. There are real examples of the first three options being used on the Packers.

  • See Desmond Bishop in 2010 or James Jones in 2012 for an example of players adequately filling in when a starter is injured.
  • See Rodgers taking over for Brett Favre when a star player leaves the team (for whatever reason).
  • See Ted Thompson accumulating picks late in the draft and signing undrafted free agents who often turn into useful players.

If you want to extend the draft and develop philosophy discussion further, we can talk about how once the drafted talent is developed, you have to open up the checkbook to keep it. Clay Matthews just got extended. Aaron Rodgers will soon. Those two players will likely eat up about a fourth of the Packers salary cap.

15

March

Packers News: A.J. Hawk restructures contract

Packers LB A.J. Hawk

Packers LB A.J. Hawk

A.J. Hawk has agreed to restructure the final three years of his contract with the Packers, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

In 2011, the team cut Hawk before re-signing him to a five-year, $33.75 million deal.

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted that Hawk’s contract was, in fact, restructured, and that the result was a pay cut. Silverstein went on to say that Hawk wasn’t thrilled about taking a pay cut, but the move will allow him to play in Green Bay for three more years.

Hawk was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the pick after the Jets took tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and just before the 49ers took tight end Vernon Davis. He hasn’t performed up to his draft position, but he’s only missed two games in his seven-year NFL career.

One could argue that 2012 was Hawk’s best season as a professional. Although he failed to come up with an interception for the second year in a row, he racked up 120 tackles and three sacks, according to NFL.com.

Hawk was a standout player at Ohio State University, starting 38 of 51 games. He was a unanimous All-American as a junior in 2004 and as a senior in 2005. Hawk also won the Lombardi Award during his senior season at OSU.

At the very least, Hawk restructuring his deal gives the team some insurance at inside linebacker. Desmond Bishop figures to return to the starting lineup in 2013 after missing last season, and third-year player D.J. Smith could compete for a starting job in training camp.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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21

February

Will the Packers Remain Uncomfortably Married to A.J. Hawk?

AJ Hawk

Cut him or keep him? The Packers might just stay uncomfortably married to AJ Hawk.

The topic of A.J. Hawk gets debated to death by Packers fans every offseason.

Some fans view Hawk as an overpaid bust who has no business on the field. Others view him as a serviceable player even though he hasn’t lived up to his status as a high draft pick. A few delusional fans even think some other team would trade a first or second day draft choice for Hawk.

If I were in charge of the Packers, I’d release Hawk. If released after *June 1, it would save $5.45 million against the salary cap — money that could be used to extend Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji — and cut ties with a player who hasn’t forced a turnover since 2010 and didn’t break up a single pass in 2012.

Hawk has always been a ho-hum player. I believe the Packers committed to him because they weren’t sure about their other options. The Packers were the 35-year-old woman who married a guy that wasn’t quite perfect, but time was running out and the other options were iffy. Settling on Hawk was better than being left alone and vulnerable (with a house full of cats).

Here’s the big question regarding Hawk’s future in Green Bay: Are there finally some other options for the Packers this offseason?

Desmond Bishop is a high-energy playmaker. D.J. Smith is capable. Brad Jones proved his worth after Bishop and Smith got hurt. Terrell Manning and Jamari Lattimore are young players who could emerge if given a chance. Do those players give the Packers enough confidence to divorce Hawk? What if Thompson drafts a physically gifted middle linebacker early in the draft?

On paper, you would think so. But can Ted Thompson really be swept off his feet by two guys coming off major knee injuries, a career backup (who is also a free agent), two kids who have never played a meaningful snap, or a draft pick?

Perhaps the names are a bit sexier this time around, but when you look beneath the surface, the Packers might decide to stay uncomfortably married to Hawk. He had 157 tackles last season, and he at least tries to play physical, even if he isn’t talented enough to make much of an impact.