by Justis Mosqueda
Today, it was announced that Desmond Bishop - the former-Packers linebacker - has signed with the Minnesota Vikings, less than three years removed from his 2010 breakout season. After Nick Barnett went down in Week 1, Bishop ran with his opportunity in the starting role for the first time. The Packers won the Super Bowl that season, and Bishop received a four year extension in the off-season. He did well in 2011, but he tore his hamstring, badly, in 2012, which forced him to sit out the year on IR.
With Bishop's departure, the Packers only return 11 of their 22 Super Bowl starters for the 2013 season. Among those the Packers lost are:
Greg Jennings WR-Jenning played two more years with the Packers, before leaving for Minnesota this off-season. He signed a five year contract worth 47.5 million dollars with the Vikings. He never reproduced the career numbers he had in 2010.
Donald Driver WR-Like Jennings, Driver, a fan-favorite, played two more years with the Packers. Unlike Jennings, though, Driver has retired from football. During his statue ceremony, he stated he would be welcome to returning to the Packers, but won't sign on with any other team, although they have offered. His 41 passes caught during the 2011 and 2012 season were fewer than any amount he's posted in a single season between 2002 and 2010.
Chad Clifton LT-Clifton played another year with the Packers, before failing a physical before the 2012, resulting in his contract's termination.
Daryn Colledge LG-After 2010, Colledge signed a five year deal with the Cardinals. The deal is reportedly near 30 million dollars.
Scott Wells C-Wells played one more season with the Packers. He signed with the Rams last season, for a four year 24 million dollar contract. In Week 1 of 2012, he broke his foot and was IR'd the rest of the season.
Cullen Jenkins DE-Jenkins signed to Philadelphia after the 2010 season. The deal was worth 25 million over five years. In 2012 he was asked to restructure, and in 2013 he was cut from the team. He's now a member of the New York Giants.
Howard Green DE-Green, who was signed mid-way through the season, played another year with the Packers. He hasn't played a down since they let him go after the 2011 season.
Frank Zombo OLB-Zombo's been a backup linebacker with the Packers until this off-season, when he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Charles Woodson CB-After some nagging injuries, and a move from starting corner to safety/nickel-corner, the Packers cut Charles Woodson. Woodson signed to Oakland this off-season, where he started his NFL career.
Nick Collins FS-After three straight Pro-Bowls, Collins suffered a neck injury in early 2011. The injury eventually lead to his release; he hasn't played a down since.
Even with 11 returning starters from the Super Bowl team, there's no promise that number won't significantly drop after the 2013 season. Look at the contracts:
Aaron Rodgers QB-2020 free agent
James Starks RB-2014 free agent
Jordy Nelson WR-2015 free agent
James Jones WR-2014 free agent
Bryan Bulaga LT-2015 free agent
Josh Sitton LG-2017 free agent
Ryan Pickett DE-2014 free agent
B.J. Raji NT-2014 free agent
Clay Matthews OLB-2019 free agent
A.J. Hawk ILB-2016 free agent
Tramon Williams CB-2015 free agent
With Starks, Jones, Pickett, and Raji coming off the books, it's possible the Packers only return 32% of their Super Bowl starters in 2014.
Starks, alone, could dip the percentage under half this season. The running back corp is stronger with the addition of rookies Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. DuJuan Harris would have been the 2013 starter had no running back been drafted, and Alex Green seems to be ahead of Starks on the depth chart. Lump all that in with the draft rumors that the Packers were shopping Starks (along with Bishop, which obviously came into fruition), it seems like Starks will be gone by the start of September.
Whether or not Starks leaves in 2013 or 2014, it's no wonder why the Packers are consistently ranked among the youngest teams in the NFL, year in and year out. Ted Thompson would rather let a guy off with a year in the tank, than have to pay him when he's got nothing left. The franchise is the poster boy for the draft and develop model of building a team. You play well? You get paid. No money's wasted on elderly free agents. If you really want to keep someone from your roster, you can with that saved money.
Fans have an emotional connect with Bishop. We haven't seen him become a shell of himself, like we've seen Woodson. Bishop was playing good football, then he was hurt, then we cut him, and now someone picked him up, quickly. Thompson wouldn't just let someone walk out the door, if he tought having them there would improve his football team. For whatever reason, the team is committed to Brad Jones, and so am I.
Justis Mosqueda is a Journalism student who writes for OptimumScouting.com, DraftFalcons.com, Packers-Backer.blogspot.com, and cuts videos of NFL Draft prospects for DraftBreakdown.com
You can follow Justis on Twitter: Twitter.com/justismosqueda