Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Packers lock up Bishop

No, the Green Bay Packers have not instigated an ecclesiastical junta in the Diocese of Green Bay. Rather, they have according to reports nailed down a four-year $19 million contract extension with LB Desmond Bishop.


Bishop has been a top performer on special teams and in preseason games for the last several seasons. Finally, with the rash of injuries which decimated the Packers' linebacking corps, he got his chance to show what he can do as a starter. And he's done well. Now, he's going to get paid well, too, although some suspect that he might have been able to bank more funds if he'd gone to free agency in the off-season. Apparently, he wants to stay in Green Bay. And why wouldn't he? The Packers' defense -- despite the numerous injuries that hit that unit throughout the course of the regular season -- has become a dominating feature of the Pack. It is well coached. And the players that have been plugged in have each excelled in ways unexpected, in large part due to the coaching of defensive coordinator Dom Capers and his assistants. Kudos have to particularly go to linebackers coach Kevin Greene for the tremendous job he's done with the revolving cast of characters at the linebacker spots.

One wonders whether this move to sign Bishop long-term is a security blanket in case the Packers decide to part ways with Nick Barnett, who will be coming off yet another season-ending injury, or whether it will be a negotiating tool in an attempt to get A. J. Hawk to renegotiate his contract, which calls for him to jump from $4.623 million this season to a base salary of $10 million next season. Hawk has arguably had his best season as a pro. He's been as solid a performer as they come, and is the primary signal caller at linebacker. Since reportedly adjusting his workout routine, Hawk even seems to be quicker than before and able to even handle short pass coverage better than in prior years. No doubt he's the kind of quality person and player that the Packers would like to keep on hand for the long haul. But at what price? That remains to be seen. The Packers will have a crowded field at linebacker going into next season, with all the players coming back from injury (e.g., Barnett, Poppinga, Chillar, Jones...remember them???) and the players that were given opportunities no one expected at the start of the season, such as Frank Zombo and Erik Walden as well as Bishop.

There will be some interesting decisions coming down the pike for players and team alike.

But for now, congrats to Mr. Bishop. He's played like he's had something to prove, and prove it he has. He's earned his keep.

A great performance on Sunday vs. Michael Vick and the Eagles would be a wonderful way for Bishop to confirm the faith the Packers have placed in him.