The NFL doesn't have a true offseason, what with the draft and OTAs and minicamps filling the time between the Super Bowl and the start of training camp. Even in the month-long quiet period, when most players and coaches and personnel types are reacquainting themselves with their families and friends and pets, the Vikings usually seem to make news.
They did so again on Monday, signing former Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop to a one-year contract. Thus Bishop becomes the latest in a long line of former Packers – Greg Jennings, Brett Favre, Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, et al – to cross the St. Croix River and catch on with Green Bay's rival to the west.
The signing is pretty low-risk for the Purple. Bishop, who will turn 29 in a month, spent all of last season on the Packers' IR with a torn hamstring, so when Green Bay decided to release him last week, he didn't have much leverage in contract negotiations. The Vikings, meanwhile, were prepared to go into training camp with Erin Henderson at middle linebacker and an assortment of rookies and undrafted free agent-types battling it out for the weakside spot.
Don't assume, however, that Bishop's presence means Henderson will automatically move back to his starting spot on the weakside. Reports from OTAs and minicamp were that Henderson was impressing in the middle, and Bishop has experience playing outside and inside in the Packers' 3-4 defense. The plan going forward appears to be to let both veterans get reps at both linebacker spots before the coaching staff settles on who will line up next to Chad Greenway and who'll play on the outside.
Given that Bishop racked up 8.0 sacks in his last two seasons with the Packers, don't be surprised if he finds himself on the weakside with a chance to rush the passer, leaving Henderson – who's more familiar with Alan Williams' defense – in the middle to call the signals.
Either way, sit back and enjoy hearing Packers fans whine about the defection of another one of their former favorite sons. That's always fun, no matter the time of year.
Patrick Donnelly is a Senior Editor at SportsData, a contributor to the Vikings Yearbook, and has covered the Vikings for FOXSportsNorth.com, Viking Update and the Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @donnelly612.
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