The Green Bay Packers released Desmond Bishop on Monday – making official what was first reported last week. The veteran inside linebacker missed the entire 2012 season after rupturing a hamstring in August. The team will immediately gain $3.46 million in salary cap relief (there will be a hit of $800,000 in 2014).
While surprised by the move at first, I can understand GM Ted Thompson’s rationale. The Packers have been decimated by injuries in recent seasons, so the thought of relying on a 29-year-old player coming off a serious leg injury couldn’t have been appealing. Plus, even in today’s NFL, $3.46 million is a decent amount of money – especially when you consider how many key players will be free agents next spring.
So I’m OK with getting rid of Bishop. What I’m not OK with, however, is willingly going into a season with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones as the starting inside linebackers. It’s one thing to start them due to injury; it’s quite another to start them by choice. At a position that screams out for physicality, Dom Capers will employ two of the least physical inside linebackers in the league. Hawk hasn’t forced a fumble since George W. Bush was in the White House. That’s almost impossible. Jones, to his credit, tries to smack people, but his linear build and lack of power seldom causes ball carriers to go backwards.
Some fans are holding out hope that Terrell Manning will show enough this summer to supplant either Hawk or Jones, but that’s probably wishful thinking at this point. While the former North Carolina star has talent, he was a non-factor as a rookie due in part to a serious stomach ailment that plagued him throughout his first training camp. At best, Manning might get some snaps in certain packages, where his knack for blitzing the quarterback can be taken advantage of. But when it comes to the base and the nickel, expect to see plenty of Hawk and/or Jones. And that’s apparently just fine with Thompson. Something tells me that’s also just fine with every opposing offensive player on Green Bay’s upcoming schedule.