Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop’s play prompts contract negotiations : Packers Insider

Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop’s play prompts contract negotiations

November 21, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 20, 2010 ~ by Rob Demovsky

~The next Green Bay Packers player to get a contract extension might not be Cullen Jenkins or Tramon Williams.

It could be Desmond Bishop.

The fourth-year inside linebacker has gone from forgotten man to key contributor in a span of five weeks. Bishop hardly played on defense in his first three-plus NFL seasons but has been as good — or better — than longtime starter Nick Barnett since Barnett went down with a season-ending wrist injury Oct. 3 against Detroit.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback John Kitna, forcing a fumble during the third quarter of their Nov. 7 game at Lambeau Field.

Bishop has started the last five games in place of Barnett and his play has prompted the Packers to begin negotiations with him on a new contract.

“There’s been preliminary talks, and we’ve kept the lines of communication open,” Bishop’s agent, Blake Baratz, said on Friday. “It’s kind of an ever-changing landscape, but they’ve made it clear they want him back, and Desmond would like to be back. Each week is kind of an audition for him, and they probably feel more and more comfortable.”

Bishop ranks third on the team in tackles, has a career-high two sacks and returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown Oct. 24 against Minnesota. Perhaps more importantly, Bishop has been more assignment-sure than he was in the past, when he’d follow a spectacular play with a blown play in his few opportunities in a reserve role his first three seasons.

“He’s been in a situation where he’s been wanting to get on the field and get his opportunity, and he’s taken the approach that this is my opportunity and my chance to show that I deserve to be out there,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “Certainly by what he’s done, he’s proven that. He’s made big plays in every game, and I think he’s been fairly consistent.”

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The course of Bishop’s career with the Packers has changed this season. He began the season by complaining about a lack of playing time and suggested he’d be open to a trade. Now, he’s on the verge of getting a raise.

Complicating the negotiations are the uncertainty over the collective bargaining agreement and the 30 percent rule that says a player’s new deal on a contract extension or renegotiation cannot be increased by more than 30 percent of the 2009 base salary. Bishop, who is playing under the rookie contract he signed after he was a sixth-round pick in 2007, had a base salary of $460,000 last season. The 30 percent rule does not include signing bonus, so any deal Bishop did before his contract expired would have to include a sizable signing bonus.

Bishop will have four accrued seasons after this year, but it’s unknown if that will be enough to qualify as an unrestricted free agent. It would under the old CBA, but when the owners opted out of that, players needed six seasons to be unrestricted.

Still, a source on Friday said Bishop is high on the Packers’ list of players they want to re-sign, behind perhaps only Williams.

“I think the Packers really value me, and they’ve talked a little bit about keeping me here,” Bishop said. “Now we’ve just got to figure out all the nuts and bolts of it.”

Injury report

Bishop was added to the injury report Friday with a hip injury, and although he was limited in practice, he was listed as probable and is expected to play Sunday at Minnesota.

Bishop said the injury first occurred before the bye week. During the break, he underwent a procedure to drain blood that had pooled in his hip.

“It just kind of flared up on him, so we wanted to be smart with him,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He went through the jog-through. I fully expect him to play.”

For the second straight game week, linebacker Clay Matthews was limited to the jog-through period all week. This time, it was because of a sore shin, not the nagging hamstring injury.

“There’s just general soreness and pain, but I’ll be fine for the game,” said Matthews, who was listed as probable. “It’s one of those things that the more you practice on it, the worse it’s going to get, so we’re just being smart about it. It’s the same preparation I did for the Cowboys game.”

Donald Driver has had a great career against the Vikings, but don't expect him to be ready to go yet for this game. Donald needs to fully heal and be ready for the final stretch drive healthy.

The Packers listed receiver Donald Driver (quadriceps) and defensive end Ryan Pickett (ankle) as questionable for Sunday’s game. Both were limited in practice, and McCarthy said how they felt Saturday would determine whether they play against the Vikings.

“I’ll be very curious when Dr. (Pat) McKenzie has the opportunity to visit with Ryan and Donald both (Saturday) and on game day,” McCarthy said.

The only player held completely out of practice was fullback Korey Hall, whose back tightened up on him during Thursday’s practice. Hall was listed as questionable.

No club

For the first time since he broke his left hand in the second quarter of the season opener at Philadelphia, defensive end Cullen Jenkins will play without the restrictive club cast.

He will have to wear a protective pad on the top of his hand, but he no longer will have a cast on it. He said his fingers will not be covered and he will have full use of his hand. Jenkins has 22 tackles and four sacks but believes his numbers would have been better if not for the cast.

“Hopefully it helps a lot, being able to grab and maintain leverage a little better,” Jenkins said. “I’ll be anxious to get out there with both hands.”

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