Desmond Bishop agreed to a one-year deal with the Vikings on Monday, giving them a possible starter at middle linebacker. The move also gives the former Green Bay Packers player an opportunity to re-establish himself as a productive player after he missed last season because of injury.
Bishop, 28, was released by the Packers a week ago, worked out for the Vikings last week and was signed shortly after the team’s minicamp ended. If healthy — he missed the 2012 season after tearing his right hamstring during the preseason, an injury that required surgery — Bishop will provide depth and competition at linebacker.
A team source confirmed the one-year deal. Bishop’s agent, Blake Baratz, also confirmed the agreement via Twitter. Financial terms were not released.
Bishop played inside linebacker in the Packers’ 3-4 defense before missing last season. The Vikings, who lost starting middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley in free agency when he signed with Arizona, moved weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson to the middle for organized team activities and minicamp. Marvin Mitchell and rookie Gerald Hodges played on the weak side for those practices.
A sixth-round draft pick by the Packers in 2007, Bishop spent his first three seasons in a backup role, including two as a middle linebacker before Green Bay changed from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. Bishop moved into the starting lineup in 2010. Playing an inside position in the 3-4 during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he had 218 tackles, four forced fumbles, eight sacks and one interception.
During minicamp last week, Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said he didn’t think it would be difficult for Bishop to adjust back to a 4-3 scheme should he sign with the team.
“It’s not rocket science,” Williams said. “It’s football and it’s still about running to the ball, tackling and reading your keys and making plays when the ball comes to you. So I don’t think it’s a big adjustment.”
A likely scenario would be Bishop starting in the middle and Henderson moving back outside but remaining on the field in passing situations in the nickel defense. That situation will play itself out in the opening days of training camp in Mankato, which is scheduled to begin with players reporting July 25.
Bishop becomes yet another former Packers player to find a home in Minnesota, following on the heels of wide receiver Greg Jennings. It is a list that also includes, over the years, Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, Robert Ferguson and Brett Favre.
The move also showed the Vikings, who still are building for the future, are also willing to make moves to address immediate needs.