Before 2013, the market for veteran inside linebackers wasn’t good. With the market going flat for key positions like pass rusher, cornerback, and left tackle in 2013, it’s no surprise that less money is available for veteran inside linebackers — especially when a veteran inside linebacker hits the market in June.
And so it was for former Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop, who did a one-year deal in the hopes of getting back to the open market in 2014. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, his contract with the Vikings pays up to $1.35 million.
“Up to” is the key. The high end arises from playing time. The low end likely will be the minimum salary for a seventh-year player: $840,000.
Complicating matters for Bishop was a hamstring injury that wiped out his entire 2012 season. He says he’s healthy, but teams typically want to see a guy prove it.
Other teams, we’re told, were offering only the one-year minimum, presumably under the minimum salary benefit that creates a cap number of $555,000. Teams interested at that level included the Chiefs, Jaguars, Giants, and Ravens.
The biggest benefit from not using the minimum-salary benefit comes from the ability to extend the player’s contract before the start of free agency in the next league year. Any veteran player who signs the one-year deal for the reduced cap charge can’t sign a new contract with his current team until it expires, necessarily putting him on the open market.
The Packers never offered Bishop a reduced deal, which means he had no choice but to become a free agent. He now has every incentive to have the kind of season that not only pushes him to the high end of his current deal but also sets him up to make a splash in March 2014, or sooner if the Vikings decide to extend him.