Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

24 Jun 2013

Vikings Sign Desmond Bishop

Not usually the caliber of free-agent signing that deserves its own XP post, but 1) things in the NFL are really, really slow right now, and 2) this is one of the offseason's biggest holes that was still waiting to be filled. Bishop can play middle linebacker, which moves Erin Henderson back to the weak side and out of sub packages. It also means the Vikings aren't stuck starting either special teamer Marvin Mitchell or Patriots reject Tyrone McKenzie. Now, can someone please explain to me who is going to be Seattle's third linebacker? (Bishop wouldn't have fit there, they need an outside guy... but man, they need SOMEONE.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 24 Jun 2013

14 comments, Last at 05 Jul 2013, 8:32am by DisplacedPackerFan


by SeaKiwi (not verified) :: Mon, 06/24/2013 - 6:50pm

I think the Seahawks will only need someone 45-50% of the time. Winfield will frequently play the run-support slot corner role he fills so well, allowing the team to play nickle defense as base more often, while not giving up much in the run game.

When they do play 3 backers, I'd expect to see Wagner in the middle with KJ Wright on the weakside. PC has been looking at Irvin and Avril (and Morgan) at Strongside/rush backer. As for the lower roster, Toomer is an athletic freak who could break through, otherwise Smith is adequate.

The defense can be elite with adequacy at the third LB position, is what I'm saying.

by Sifter :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 11:42pm

Totally ignoring the Vikings news, and doing some Seahawks speculating for a sec...I thought Malcolm Smith was more than adequate when stepping in more frequently for Leroy Hill at the end of the year. I guess the concern is that: a) it might have been a bit fluky - small samples and all that, plus his lowly draft position; and b) he's not real big for a LB. That could be exploited strategically, or may make him more fragile over 16 games.

KJ Wright seems like such a great fit on the strongside it would be a shame to move him around just to shoehorn in a bigger name guy like Irvin or Avril. So Smith definitely deserves first crack at the 3rd LB job IMHO.

by SeaKiwi (not verified) :: Mon, 06/24/2013 - 7:48pm

That's not to say that if a good player becomes available, perhaps following roster cuts, that PCJS won't bring them in- always compete- but I don't think a third 'starting' linebacker is a priority position that is causing Seattle coaches to lose a lot of sleep.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 7:46am

Once again, the Vikings sign an old Packer. Other than Longwell, have any of them been good for more than a year?

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 10:52am

Darren Sharper made two pro bowls with the Vikings in his four years there. Sure his all pro years were with the Packers, and then with the Saints (the year after he left the Vikings) but he was good for more than a year.

by Nevic (not verified) :: Wed, 06/26/2013 - 1:42pm

Greg Jennings will probably be good for the Vikings for more than a year if they have a QB who can get the ball to him...

by Jimmy :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 9:18am

Its like you are actually trying to piss off Bears fans.

by Vague (not verified) :: Fri, 06/28/2013 - 4:45pm


by andrew :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 6:04pm

Erin Henderson said he is playing the middle and that's that, and presumably Bishop can play outside.

We'll see how long that lasts, playing two players outside their natural positions.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Thu, 06/27/2013 - 9:47am

I don't know if he's fast enough to play the outside. He ran a 4.8 coming out of college and that was 7 years and a surgically repaired hamstring ago

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 07/03/2013 - 9:51pm

Hard for me to understand why the Packers let Bishop go, even knowing their mercenary front office posture. Popular opinion had Bishop as the Packers 2nd best LB behind Matthews and way ahead of Brad Jones. Keeping Jones ahead of Bishop seems like a backwards step, and Ted Thompson hasn't exactly been hitting home runs with his moves recently.

by jchavlik :: Thu, 07/04/2013 - 12:23pm

I think it has to do With TT needing a bit more room for a Raji extension

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Fri, 07/05/2013 - 6:56am

Or with how Bishop looked to the team doctors post surgery. Typically surgery is only necessary when the tendon rips from its anchor, so maybe there were some serious question marks about his recovery, even on Minesota's end.( After all they only gave him a one year deal.)

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 07/05/2013 - 8:32am

Note: I directly replied to chunkier monkey to emphasize my agreement. I expand on several points mostly in direct response to Lion in AZ.

He got 1 year $750K with only $50K guaranteed. He took an 80% pay cut. I've also read that Minnesota is the only team that offered him a contract. Of course, as always, the reliability of that info is so-so. He worked out for KC and NYG, Jacksonville at least talked with his agent but I don't know if he ever visited them. The Packers are rumored to have offered him a reduced contract as well.

So yes there are clearly medical concerns, and not just from the Packers. As with all situations like this, the Vikings may have gotten a steal, but I'm not convinced Bishop is that much better than Jones. In 2010 he ranked 81st in yds / play, 79th in stop rate. Those slipped to 96th and 99th in 2011, his other advanced stats on here are similar. He ranks very close to Hawk, though usually worse, in most every stat that FO keeps. We don't have 2012 data posted on the site, so I can't look at Jones, but eyeball test didn't show a ton of difference.

Bishop was a thumper who could often be out of position. Hawk is soft hitter who is often in position. Both could easily get washed out by linemen on the second level and are league average at best in pass coverage. Jones thumps a bit more than Hawk, and will be out of position a bit more. However, I saw him hold good coverage on guys like Reggie Wayne 40 yards down field. He's not good in pass coverage, but he has done things that Bishop never did, and Hawk rarely does. Sine all three are about the same age (Jones 27, Bishop 28, Hawk 29) and two of them have been fairly healthy the last few years and one of those has agreed to pay cuts twice (Hawk).

I can understand why the Packers went the way they did. They had three pretty average ILB's all in the $3.2 - $3.9 million a year pay range. They all have slightly different strengths and similar ceilings, but only one of them had major surgery and missed a full season recovering from it. Jones might be a backward step in the run game, but I actually think with another off season in the playbook at the new position it allows more options in the passing game. To me it's just a side step. Part of why they don't have a ton of drop off when their ILB's go down is because they don't employ anything much better than league average.

The Packers clearly care less about stopping the run than the pass. I just hope they learned how to play against read option. Something they only ever faced against SF in the playoffs and clearly failed against.