As expected, the Green Bay Packers parted ways with linebacker Desmond Bishop as the former Super Bowl Champion will hit the waiver wire this week. Bishop missed the 2012 season with an early season injury that put him on the IR and it seems those durability concerns and his pending $3.46 million salary for 2013 forced the Packers to make the difficult decision to let a key part of their Super Bowl SLV championship team go.
That salary will likely be what prevents teams from picking up the veteran linebacker on the waiver wire, but once he clears he will be in demand as the inside linebacker’s veteran leadership and championship pedigree will find him many suitors as you can never have enough linebackers in today’s NFL.
Where do the Raiders play in all of this after overhauling their linebacker unit all offseason? Could they be in the running for Bishop, who would automatically make the Raiders a more well rounded team with his presence in the middle?
With Reggie McKenzie’s ties to Green Bay the Raiders could be in the running as McKenzie knows the Packers and would not mind building around another former champion Packer after landing Charles Woodson.
Bishop’s experience with the 3-4 defense likely will be a drawback for the Raiders as a potential destination, but McKenzie has mentioned that the Raiders want to have a fluid defense that can switch schemes on the go and confuse offensive coordinators so adding a player that could excel in both the 4-3 and the 3-4 would be a huge pick up for the Raiders. When you combine the fact that he has a Super Bowl ring and says that he will be 110% ready in time for training camp, and you have a very intriguing veteran free agent in a winter that has been loaded with former key players looking for work.
Bishop provides the potential for McKenzie to add a run stopper that the Raiders could desperately use and with salary flexibility after this spring’s wheeling and dealing from McKenzie and Michael Huff’s contract finally off of Oakland’s cap number, this is a move that can be made.
Desmond played two years in Green Bay as a starters totaling 218 tackles, 8 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. A vicious hitter who is a bit slower than most middle linebackers in a 4-3 system, Bishop would likely need to adapt to playing in a new system which hurts the Raiders chance of landing him. Still with the addition of Bishop the Raiders would have a strong presence in the middle of the field with Nick Roach already in the fold.
The Chiefs could also be in the fold for Bishop as GM John Dorsey is a former Packers front office guy and Kansas City plays the 3-4 formation making it a destination that could work for Bishop if he clears waivers.
Minnesota is in the lead right now in the Bishop sweepstakes as the jilted former Packer is going the route that many Packers cuts have went before and is already reported to be meeting with the Vikings tomorrow. If Minnesota wants him, they can surely get him as the Vikings both promise a chance to win a championship with Adrian Peterson’s return to dominance and a chance at two rivalry games in the NFC North where Bishop could get revenge on his former team.
Despite scheduling a meeting with the Vikings, Bishop sent out a tweet today that indicated that his feelings towards the Packers might be a little less hostile than things seem:
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
A former champion who is eager to prove those who doubt his ability to come back from the IR wrong, Bishop may not see the Raiders as ready enough to be a contender. Those injury concerns also might be a dealbreaker on the other end for McKenzie as the Raiders aren’t necessarily looking to win right away. Adding Bishop would be a deal that would be the step in the right direction for the Raiders to win now, but with many proven veterans on the board still untouched by Oakland, it is hard to see the Raiders actually going out and getting a player who seems more suited to be a mercenary for a team that feels like it is a lock to contend for a playoff or Super Bowl spot.
Still with McKenzie’s ties to the organization and the familiarity between new Raider Charles Woodson and Bishop, it would be worth a look for Dennis Allen and McKenzie to at least take a look to adding Bishop and bolstering the rushing defense up the middle. In trying to give a positive swagger and winning identity to the Raiders after a decade of futility, Bishop could be a great former champion to add to the fold.