Thomp­son re­lin­quish­ing his role as GM

Packer Plus - - Extra Points - TOM SILVERSTEIN

Green Bay – For the first time in 13 years, Ted Thomp­son will not be in com­mand of the Green Bay Pack­ers’ foot­ball op­er­a­tion.

Two sources con­firmed that Pack­ers Pres­i­dent/CEO Mark Mur­phy has reached an agree­ment with Thomp­son to step down and re­lin­quish his po­si­tion as the team’s gen­eral man­ager.

The Pack­ers did not re­lease any in­for­ma­tion on the de­ci­sion, but a source said it was Mur­phy’s de­ci­sion to start the tran­si­tion from the 64-year-old Thomp­son to new front-of­fice lead­er­ship.

Thomp­son, whose con­tract is set to ex­pire af­ter this sea­son, will move to an ad­vi­sory po­si­tion within the per­son­nel de­part­ment.

NFL Net­work first re­ported that Thomp­son no longer would be the gen­eral man­ager and a re­place­ment would be sought. Other re­ports sug­gested the Pack­ers would es­tab­lish new roles for ex­ist­ing mem­bers of the de­part­ment in a job-shar­ing ar­range­ment, but the source said that was in­ac­cu­rate.

The Pack­ers will con­duct a full search for a new gen­eral man­ager.

The search will not be lim­ited to just in-house can­di­dates, of whom there are sev­eral, in­clud­ing di­rec­tor of foot­ball op­er­a­tions Eliot Wolf, di­rec­tor of player per­son­nel Brian Gutekunst, se­nior per­son­nel ad­vis­tor Alonzo High­smith and vice pres­i­dent of foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tion / player fi­nance Russ Ball.

Mur­phy could seek the ad­vice of Thomp­son to select can­di­dates from around the NFL, but Thomp­son might be loyal to his own peo­ple and want to pro­mote them.

In that case, Mur­phy could em­ploy a head­hunter such as Jed Hughes of Korn Ferry, the same man who led the search for the Pack­ers when Mur­phy was se­lected to re­place Bob Har­lan.

This will be by far the big­gest de­ci­sion Mur­phy will make since be­com­ing pres­i­dent on Dec. 3, 2007.

And it could be a very tricky one.

If Mur­phy de­cides to go out­side the or­ga­ni­za­tion to hire a gen­eral man­ager, he risks los­ing Wolf, Gutekunst and High­smith to other teams. All three con­sider them­selves fu­ture gen­eral man­ager can­di­dates. Wolf and Gutekunst have in­ter­viewed for GM jobs and prob­a­bly will be can­di­dates ev­ery year un­til they land a job.

Even if they don’t re­ceive of­fers to be GMs else­where, they could ask to be let out of their con­tracts and choose to work for new Cleve­land Browns gen­eral man­ager John Dorsey or for­mer col­leagues John Schneider (Seat­tle Sea­hawks) and Reg­gie McKenzie (Oak­land Raiders), who also are gen­eral man­agers.

Dorsey, Schneider and McKenzie, as well as all three Pack­ers per­son­nel men, are dis­ci­ples of for­mer Pack­ers gen­eral man­ager Ron Wolf, Eliot’s fa­ther. Wolf de­vel­oped a scout­ing sys­tem and style of man­age­ment to which all of them ad- here.

Only Thomp­son, who was hired by Wolf in 1992, has de­vi­ated from the for­mer gen­eral man­ager’s ag­gres­sive style of team build­ing.

Schneider, a Green Bay na­tive, long has been thought of as a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor to Thomp­son, but he is un­der con­tract with the Sea­hawks through the 2021 sea­son. He said at the time he signed a five-year ex­ten­sion in 2016 that he does not have an “out” clause that would al­low him to leave for the Pack­ers job.

The Sea­hawks would have to be will­ing to let him out of his con­tract or the Pack­ers would have to ar­gue to the league that Schneider shares power with coach Pete Car­roll and would be el­i­gi­ble to leave be­cause the Pack­ers job would be a pro­mo­tion.

If Mur­phy chooses Wolf, Gutekunst or High­smith to be gen­eral man­ager, he’s less likely to lose the other two, since they have grown up to­gether in the or­ga­ni­za­tion and be­lieve in the Wolf-style of team build­ing. They have had to sup­press their ag­gres­sive na­ture to fit in with Thomp­son’s con­ser­va­tive style.

Their re­spect for Thomp-

son’s tal­ent-eval­u­a­tion skills and lead­er­ship kept them from leav­ing the Pack­ers for lat­eral po­si­tions.

If Mur­phy chooses Ball, whose pri­mary du­ties are ne­go­ti­at­ing con­tracts but who has been study­ing per­son­nel eval­u­a­tion un­der Thomp­son, he al­most cer­tainly would lose all three per­son­nel men, a source fa­mil­iar with the Pack­ers’ front of­fice said.

His hir­ing would sig­nal to them that they had no chance of be­com­ing gen­eral man­ager in Green Bay and would be bet­ter off else­where.

An­other pos­si­bil­ity would be to hire some­one from out­side. Among the hottest can­di­dates for gen­eral man­ager po­si­tions are Min­nesota Vik­ings as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager Ge­orge Pa­ton, Bal­ti­more Ravens as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager Eric DeCosta and Philadelphia Ea­gles vice pres­i­dent of player per­son­nel Joe Dou­glas.

Com­pli­cat­ing matters is that coach Mike McCarthy is en­ter­ing the fi­nal year of his con­tract. Mur­phy must de­cide whether to ex­tend McCarthy’s con­tract re­gard­less of the new GM hire. Thomp­son was fully be­hind McCarthy, but a new GM might not feel the same way.

What­ever the case, Mur­phy is go­ing to have a hard time find­ing some­one with the level of suc­cess Thomp­son has had. For as much crit­i­cism as he has en­dured from Pack­ers fans, he’s the one who drafted Rodgers de­spite hav­ing Brett Favre on his ros­ter.

He is re­garded around the NFL as a bril­liant judge of tal­ent and has been par­tic­u­larly good at pick­ing wide receivers and of­fen­sive line­men in the draft. His weak­ness has been de­fen­sive line­men and tight ends.

When Mur­phy joined the Pack­ers, Thomp­son al­ready was in place as gen­eral man­ager and McCarthy as head coach.

The three men led the Pack­ers through an un­prece­dented or­ga­ni­za­tional run of eight straight play­off ap­pear­ances, in­clud­ing a Su­per Bowl XLV ti­tle dur­ing the 2010 sea­son. The Pack­ers have played in three NFC Cham­pi­onship Games, won six NFC North ti­tles and won 10 post­sea­son games since Thomp­son hired McCarthy in ’06.

The Pack­ers have a 131-78-1 record since McCarthy took over (in­clud­ing play­off games), which is the third-best win­ning per­cent­age in the NFL over that span be­hind only New Eng­land and Pitts­burgh.

The 2017 sea­son, how­ever, saw the Pack­ers lose Rodgers for seven games due to a bro­ken right col­lar­bone and fin­ish the sea­son 7-9, its first los­ing record since go­ing 6-10 in 2008. The Pack­ers floun­dered un­der backup quar­ter­back Brett Hund­ley and lost their last two games, both against NFC North foes, by a com­bined score of 5111.

The Pack­ers were dec­i­mated by in­jury, start­ing 10 dif­fer­ent of­fen­sive line com­bi­na­tions and los­ing key mem­bers of their se­condary as the sea­son wore on. The loss of Rodgers ex­posed the lack of im­pact play­ers and vet­eran depth the Pack­ers had and made Thomp­son ap­pear as though he had failed in stock­ing the team with tal­ent.

Mur­phy’s de­ci­sion to end Thomp­son’s reign prob­a­bly wasn’t as sim­ple as hav­ing a lousy sea­son. He had to as­sess Thomp­son’s abil­ity to man­age the en­tire foot­ball op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing McCarthy, as well as main­tain a hec­tic fall sched­ule scout­ing col­lege play­ers.

Thomp­son, a deeply pri­vate man, in­sisted on hav­ing com­plete con­trol of the op­er­a­tion and keep­ing many de­ci­sions to him­self. He re­lied on tal­ent eval­u­a­tors such as Wolf, Gutekunst and High­smith, as well as all his col­lege and pro scouts, to ad­vise him.

But Thomp­son chose to dis­re­gard their rec­om­men­da­tions for ac­quir­ing free-agent tal­ent and re­lied al­most ex­clu­sively on the draft.

Last year, he made two crit­i­cal mis­takes in the off­sea­son: In­stead of re-sign­ing free-agent tight end Jared Cook, he signed Martel­lus Ben­nett, and he al­lowed de­fen­sive back Micah Hyde to leave in free agency.

JIM MATTHEWS/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

Ted Thomp­son won’t re­turn to the Pack­ers as gen­eral man­ager next sea­son.

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