Zulgad: Addition of Desmond Bishop is good news for Vikings coach
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Leslie Frazier has seen the Minnesota Vikings make plenty of moves aimed at addressing the future since Rick Spielman was promoted to general manager in January 2012.
Spielman turned over the roster enough last offseason that it appeared Frazier was put in an almost impossible position after the Vikings coach saw his team go 3-13 in 2011.
But Spielman's retooling plan, Frazier's coaching and running back Adrian Peterson's out-of-this-world performance helped the Vikings surprise everyone and go 10-6. This resulted in a playoff berth for the Vikings and the assumption that Frazier would be in line for a long-term contract extension.
That did not happen.
Instead, the Vikings exercised an option in Frazier's contract that runs through the 2014 season. If you're Frazier, this didn't qualify as the best case scenario.
Frazier, as is always the case, handled questions about the situation with class and without ruffling any feathers. Privately, he had to be thinking, "What the heck do I have to do to prove to ownership I'm the long-term answer?"
Frazier also likely has had moments when he wondered if more could be done to improve this roster for the immediate future. Signing wide receiver Greg Jennings as a free agent in March helped, but Frazier also lost one of the NFL's best playmakers when Percy Harvin forced his way out of Minnesota.
Another significant loss occurred when the Vikings decided to release veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield in order to retain right tackle Phil Loadholt. The Chicago Bears made a big push for Loadholt, forcing the Vikings to give him a four-year, $25 million deal that included a $7 million signing bonus.
Winfield, who had a very good season in 2012 at the age of 35 and was at his most valuable playing inside in the nickel defense, decided to turn down a new offer from the Vikings to sign with Seattle. This means second-year corner Josh Robinson will attempt to replace Winfield inside in passing situations. He will be learning on the job, meaning this will be a work in progress.
Frazier also saw starting middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley sign with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent, creating the possibility that weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson was going to have to move to the middle and the Vikings would then make the best of the situation on the outside.
On Monday, however, Spielman made a move that certainly pleased Frazier and appeared to take care of an immediate need.
Former Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop agreed to a one-year contract, according to a source. Bishop likely will work both in the middle and the outside as the Vikings attempt to figure out where he and Henderson fit best.
Bishop was released last week by the Packers and worked out for the Vikings last Wednesday. The Chiefs, Giants, Jaguars and 49ers also reportedly expressed interest.
While the immediate speculation was that Bishop would play middle linebacker if he joined the Vikings and Henderson would stay on the weak side, Frazier has to feel better about his linebacker situation no matter how things shake out.
Marvin Mitchell, who has started three games in six NFL seasons, was with the first team on the weak side during offseason workouts but his role is really to provide depth at linebacker and also play on special teams.
Bishop, a sixth-round pick in 2007 by the Packers out of California, missed last season because of a hamstring injury suffered in an exhibition game but started 25 games the two previous years playing an inside spot in Green Bay's 3-4 defense.
The opportunity to reestablish himself playing on a one-year contract will serve as only part of the motivation for Bishop. He also becomes the latest former Packer to call Winter Park home.
Going back to the 2005 season, that list includes Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, Robert Ferguson, Brett Favre, Javon Walker and Jennings. Ferguson and Walker, who was in Minnesota only briefly, were happy to have jobs.
But Sharper, Longwell and Favre had clear agendas to prove their former employer had made a mistake. What better way to do that then by joining the Packers' arch-rival.
You think Jennings and Bishop aren't going to want to do the same?
That thought has to put a smile on Frazier's face.
It also serves as a reminder that not everything the Vikings are doing these days is about the long term.