GREEN BAY, Wisc.-- Long before the 2013 NFL schedule was unveiled in April, Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop was looking forward to the matchup with Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.
Turns out Green Bay will play the Redskins in its home opener in Week 2 on Sept. 15, but Bishop might not be at Lambeau Field that day and might not have the opportunity to try to run down RG3.
As the Packers were winding down their offseason program this week, multiple reports indicated the team was on the verge of jettisoning the veteran linebacker.
Bishop has been sidelined the entire spring as he completed his recovery from a torn hamstring that kept him out all of last season. He had hoped to rejoin his teammates on the field for a portion of the organized team activities, which wrap up Friday after the Packers held their minicamp last week.
Instead, the seventh-year pro vowed he would be "110 percent" ready for the start of training camp in late July. Yet, he might not get that far with the club, with which he went from being a sixth-round draft pick in 2007 to replacing an injured Nick Barnett in the starting lineup in 2010 to becoming a bona fide playmaker the next season with a team-high 142 tackles and five sacks.
As Bishop has continued to sit out the spring workouts, it's been increasingly apparent the Packers are prepared to stick with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones as their starting inside linebackers.
Hawk has been a mainstay in the lineup since he was taken No. 5 overall in the 2006 draft. Despite not bringing big-play impact to the field, Hawk led the team with a career-high-tying 157 tackles (including the playoffs) last season and stayed in team management's good graces by taking a pay cut in March on the final three years of his contract.
A few days after that restructuring was done, the Packers re-signed Jones, an unrestricted free agent, to a three-year, $11.75 million contract, which included a $3 million signing bonus. That is a substantial financial commitment made by the team to a fifth-year player who fell out of favor after earning a starting opportunity as a seventh-round rookie in 2009, only to have a renaissance the second half of last season.
Jones started the last 12 games beside Hawk after D.J. Smith, the replacement for Bishop, sustained a season-ending knee injury in mid-October. Jones ranked third on the Packers' defense in the regular season with a career-high 102 tackles and added a team-best-tying 16 tackles in the two playoff games.
General manager Ted Thompson decided to cut Smith, whose return for the start of next season was uncertain, on the eve of the April draft.
Less than two months later, a no-less-surprising parting of ways with Bishop appears likely. Team officials as well as Bishop and his agent, Blake Baratz, have been mum this week on what the future holds for Bishop in Green Bay. Bishop, who turns 29 on July 24, has two years left on his contract, and is due to make nearly $3.5 million next season and slightly more than that in 2014.
The reports about his imminent release from the team -- a trade seems unlikely at this juncture -- indicated Bishop would have to take a pay cut to save himself from the chopping block. Bishop wouldn't seem to be inclined to do that, considering he's healthy again and feels he can produce as a starter at the high rate he did prior to his leg injury.