The Green Bay Packers announced a pair of promotions to members of the team's front office on Monday, and the moves hint at the organization's succession plan for Ted Thompson when he does eventually retire.
First, Eliot Wolf was promoted to Director - Football Operations, a title formerly held by Thompson himself. Unless the two are serving as co-directors, this takes one of the titles off Thompson's plate and leaves him with the titles of Executive Vice President and General Manager.
Wolf's rise through the organization has been a fast and impressive one, as he earned today's promotion on his 34th birthday. Of course, Wolf learned the finer points of a football career from his father, former Packers GM Ron Wolf, but he remains a remarkable story. He joined the Packers' personnel department as a scout immediately after graduating from college, and has remained with the team ever since.
Wolf gets the new job after spending one season as Director of Player Personnel, which had him in charge of the scouting department for both college and professional players. Prior to that, he was the Director of Pro Personnel, a position which focuses on scouting players in the NFL, CFL, and other professional leagues.
Brian Gutekunst inherits Wolf's previous position as Director of Player Personnel. He moves up a notch from Director of College Scouting, a position which he held for the past four years. He has been in the Packers' college scouting department in various roles for the past 15 years.
This plan suggests that Wolf may indeed be the heir apparent to Ted Thompson, as he certainly would be the most likely internal candidate to take over Thompson's job if he were to retire. Team President/CEO Mark Murphy confirmed in February that "we have a plan" for what happens when Thompson calls it quits, and promoting Wolf once again suggests that he is a central part of that plan.
However, Thompson says that these moves are not a precursor to his retirement. In an interview with reporters during the NFL meetings today, he told Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that "We've been using these two guys in an advanced role for some time and now it's time we kind of acknowledged it."
Whether or not these promotions were made with an eye on the distant future or the two executives' immediate job satisfaction, it certainly sets up the Packers with appealing options to replace Thompson when he does inevitably step down. It also helps keep a person like Wolf happy, especially after he drew interest from numerous NFL teams with GM openings over the past year-plus.