Daniel House discusses Desmond Bishop's visit and the meaning this has upon the Vikings salary cap situation.
This shouldn't surprise any Vikings fans, the team is looking poised to sign a former Green Bay Packers player. The organization has had a history of signing former Packers. That list includes Brett Favre, Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker. The most recent former Packer to join the Vikings roster is wide receiver Greg Jennings, who signed a five year contract this offseason.
ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde confirmed a Green Bay Press-Gazette report that Bishop would visit the Vikings on Tuesday. With the signing of Bishop the Vikings would receive an experienced player at a position of uncertainty, while Bishop would find a place where he has a legitimate chance to start. The real question is Bishop's long term health and whether he has recovered from a torn hamstring he suffered during an August 9th preseason game versus the San Diego Chargers. Bishop suffered a hamstring strain at the start of the Packers OTA season, which resulted in him missing the entire session of Packers OTA's and mini-camps. This adds underlying concern, but with the current linebacker positional depth, the Vikings may turn towards a "low risk, high reward" opportunity. Packers GM Ted Thompson has always looked to get younger at all positions and with major uncertainty surrounding Bishop, he decided to head in the direction of linebackers Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk. Many believe the release occurred due to the Packers cap situation, but I have a different opinion.
Here is a closer look at the cap situations for the Packers and Vikings:
The Packers have an abundance of cap room to make more signings before the season, but I think their roster is primarily set. The cap hit reflected is expressed without first round pick Datone Jones' contract added into the cap hit, but includes the release of Bishop, which saved $3.9 million. This figure shows that if Green Bay really wanted to keep Bishop on the roster, they could have done so, with some adjustments. The Vikings on the other hand have less than half the amount of cap money remaining and they must sign the three first round draft picks, Cordarrelle Patterson, Sharrif Floyd, and Xavier Rhodes. This being said, the Vikings have room to realistically sign the draft picks and Desmond Bishop, but it wouldn't leave much money to pass around. This isn't uncommon and many teams in the league reach all the way to the bottom of the salary cap of $123 million.
From an NFC North standpoint the Bears and Lions both have limited cap space and have signed all their draft picks to their contracts.
Look for the Vikings cap hit to be around where the Bears and Lions are currently sitting at, which leaves room for little signings as need progresses. The cap situation isn't the issue, it comes down to health and whether Eric Sugarman and the training staff believe the injury is resolvable or fixed.
In Bishop's effective years he was rather productive, recording 292 tackles and nine sacks. He took over as a starter for the Packers about halfway through the 2010 season and was arguably one of their best defensive players during Green Bay's Super Bowl run.
The Vikings have had uncertainty at this position since free agent middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley signed a $3.5 million dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals during free agency. The team has been using Erin Henderson in the middle during OTA's. Henderson was the Vikings' starting weak-side linebacker last season and played the middle at times in the nickel defense, which leaves an open hole. If Henderson plays the middle on a full-time basis, it not only forces him to learn a new position, but also means that backup Marvin Mitchell or fourth-round pick Gerald Hodges likely would have to start at outside linebacker; a situation the Vikings are looking to prevent.
If Bishop is healthy and can make a contribution, there is no doubt he can provide veteran leadership and depth to a position that may need an energy injection. Bishop (29) is young and has proven talent, if the training staff believes he can develop a sense of durability from an injury standpoint.
Bishop will visit the Vikings Tuesday and has reportedly scheduled a visit with the Kansas City Chiefs, which adds a sense of urgency to the process. If Bishop is healthy and effective the Vikings will try to avoid him leaving and visiting the Chiefs on Thursday. Expect an answer on Bishop's status to take place before Thursday, or it most likely will be a mirage.
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