Nearly a week after reports first surfaced that Desmond Bishop would either restructure his contract or be let go, the Packers made the linebacker's release official Monday afternoon. The team is parting ways with a player who was a primary starter in 2010 and 2011 before missing all of the 2012 season due to injury.
For his part, Bishop has taken a professional and empathetic approach to the move.
Bishop said he doesn't necessarily blame the Packers. He was the one coming off a torn hamstring tendon. So in March, Green Bay covered its bases by re-signing Jones to a three-year, $11.75 million deal and also keeping Hawk at a reduced salary. Hawk is set to make $10.6 million the next three years.
"It's a smart thing to do," Bishop said. "It's understandable."
Bishop also released his own statement via Twitter.
So much fun, so many memories & friendships forged in Green Bay. Ups & downs, wins & losses! Even a XLV championship. Forever grateful #Pack— Desmond Bishop (@Desbishop55) June 17, 2013
It's worth appreciating Bishop's mature attitude towards his release. People in all walks of life struggle with being fired, let alone losing millions in potential earnings and having to relocate to another state. Even if Bishop wasn't going to be the same player post-injury, losing a quality character guy is going to affect the Packers.
Bishop has maintained that he is completely healthy and is ready to go for training camp. The Packers passed Bishop on his physical indicating that his torn tendon had indeed healed. However, there were other medical factors that played a role in his departure.
What held the linebacker out of organized team activities and minicamp, he said, was not the tendon tear itself. Rather, a muscle strain on the inside of Bishop's hamstring was the problem. Bishop admits he probably tried to run and cut too quickly, saying, "that wasn't the smartest thing to do." That tweak, "a couple-week injury," is what Bishop said held him back this past month.
Green Bay's medical staff has historically taken a conservative approach to injuries. As such, it seems likely that the linebacker's muscle strain worried Packers' team physical Patrick McKenzie. As Bishop pointed out himself, the fact the Packers re-signed Brad Jones and restructured A.J. Hawk made Bishop expendable. Given Bishop's new hamstring complications, it's understandable why the Packers decided the smartest move was to move on.
As we wrote about last week, Bishop's release saves the team over $2 million in 2013 and nearly $5 million the season after. That money is expected to go towards extensions for Sam Shields, B.J. Raji, Morgan Burnett, and the cavalcade of Packers approaching free agency. The release also opens up opportunities for several of Green Bay's young linebackers.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn