Money, Desmond Bishop and NFC North

Why exactly do we spend so much time discussing NFL finances and the salaries that teams pay their players? So that we can preview events like Monday's decision by the Green Bay Packers to release linebacker Desmond Bishop, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Bishop confirmed the move via Twitter by acknowledging "So much fun, so many memories & friendships forged in Green Bay." In a moment, we'll deal with the Press-Gazette report that Bishop's first free-agent visit will be with the Minnesota Vikings.

To review, the Packers committed to starting-caliber salaries this offseason for inside linebackers Brad Jones ($4.2 million) and A.J. Hawk ($3.6 million) this offseason. Bishop was set to earn $3.96 million amid the uncertainty of his physical condition.

It would be pretty unusual for any NFL team to pay three inside linebackers a total of $12.164 million, let alone one like the Packers who: A) play many variations of a 3-4 scheme and thus don't always have two inside linebackers on the field at the same time and B) rarely keep high-priced backups. You can quibble with the decision all you want, and you can accurately note that Bishop was one of the Packers' best defenders in 2010 and 2011. But if you were following the money, you can't call it surprising.

Nor would it be a stunner if the Vikings pursue Bishop via free agency, as Wes Hodkiewicz reported. Of course, the Vikings are an easy target for an agent hoping to drum up support for an inside linebacker. Their starter at middle linebacker at the moment is Erin Henderson, who has played on the outside for his entire career, and that move surfaced only after the Vikings failed to find a new starter in the draft.

Bishop would be making the mild conversion from a 3-4 inside linebacker to a 4-3 middle linebacker, but that shift isn't as dramatic as the one Henderson is attempting. The Vikings open their mandatory minicamp Tuesday, and let's just say the welcome mat from Green Bay to Minnesota is well-worn.

While we're at it, let's not totally rule out the possibility of the Chicago Bears -- who aren't exactly set at middle linebacker themselves after the retirement of Brian Urlacher -- at least kicking Bishop's tires. Stay tuned.