The Minnesota Vikings have been in the market for linebackers virtually all offseason, with rumors surrounding their possible interest in Brian Urlacher right up until he announced his retirement. They did use two draft picks in April on the position, taking Penn State linebackers Gerald Hodges (4th round-120th overall) and Michael Mauti (7th round-213th overall), but adding a veteran to the mix has still been a lingering possibility.
Erin Henderson has been slated to move to middle linebacker to replace the departed Jasper Brinkley, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals in free agency, but that move leaves a vacancy at Henderson’s old spot on the weak side and further tests Minnesota’s already shaky linebacker depth. Could a player that a division rival recently let go be a fit?
Desmond Bishop was released by the Green Bay Packers on Monday, after reports as recent as last week that they were still looking to trade him or possibly restructure his contract. He missed all of last season after suffering a torn hamstring during Green Bay’s preseason opener, and had been limited to side work to this point in the offseason. He was due to make a relatively modest $3.4 million in 2013, as part of the four-year, $19 million contract he signed with the Packers in January of 2011, but he will turn 29 in July and Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson clearly deemed Bishop expendable.
Bishop had to wait his turn during his first three NFL seasons after being drafted by Green Bay in the sixth round in 2007, but he started 25 games in 2010 and 2011 combined with 218 total tackles (100 or more in both seasons), eight sacks and nine pass breakups over that span.
Almost immediately after news of his release surfaced, the Vikings were reported to have scheduled a visit with Bishop. He will reportedly come to town on Tuesday, then workout for the team during their mandatory minicamp on Wednesday. If Bishop is signed, he would most likely take over at middle linebacker and push Henderson back to the weak side. In any case, under the assumption Bishop is healthy and ready to go, Minnesota would suddenly have a very good trio of starting linebackers with Chad Greenway coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl selections on the strong side.
Bishop has said his injury is fully healed, which should be expected. But his physical with the Vikings, coupled with how he looks on the field even in the limited capacity of minicamp, will serve to confirm or deny that optimism. With how much Minnesota needs to add talent at linebacker, if they let Bishop leave the Twin Cities without a contract offer other teams may take notice.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.