Bishop's deal suggests 2011 starting job

Earlier Tuesday, we noted the Green Bay Packers have lost a stunning 203 starts this season to injury but still made the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 6 seed. Linebacker Desmond Bishop is one of the big reasons why.

Bishop replaced the injured Nick Barnett in Week 5 and more than held his own as a starter over the Packers’ final 12 games, unofficially finishing the regular season with 103 tackles. He has played well enough to figure as a long-term starter at one of the Packers’ two inside linebacker positions, and Tuesday the Packers provided strong evidence that they are thinking the same thing.

Bishop agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $19 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That deal sets him up to replace either Barnett, who is due about $6 million in 2011, or A.J. Hawk, whose current contract balloons to $10 million next season.

With a wild-card playoff game looming Sunday at Philadelphia, the last thing the Packers want to start talking about is next season. But locking down Bishop was inevitable when you take into account general manager Ted Thompson’s philosophy of developing depth, and future starters, from within. More often than not, the Packers take care of their own.