On January 1st, 2018, the Green Bay Packers executed their biggest change in over a decade as it was revealed that Ted Thompson will transition out of the general manager job and into a new role within the team’s front office. With the Green Bay Packers’ search for a new general manager getting underway shortly, there will be numerous reports and rumors over the next few days.
Here’s a look at a few of the internal candidates for the vacant GM job, and keep it here with news on these individuals and any other rumors about the Packers’ job that are reported.
The internal candidates
The son of Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf, Eliot has worked his way up through the organization and has interviewed for multiple GM jobs around the league in recent years. He is viewed as having an excellent eye for scouting and talent evaluation, and currently holds the title of Director—Football Operations.
Viewed as one of the front-runners for the 49ers’ GM job last offseason before he pulled out of the race, Gutekunst came up through the Packers’ scouting department and was the director of college scouting for four years. He was promoted two years ago to director of player personnel, and appears to be highly regarded around the NFL.
As the Packers’ “cap guru”, little is known about Ball publicly as he maintains a quiet role out of the spotlight. However, few individuals have more of an impact on contract structure and overall salary cap management than Ball, who began his job as VP of football administration/player finance in 2008. Ball held a similar position with the New Orleans Saints prior to coming to Green Bay.
Another longtime Packers executive, Highsmith has been a scout with the team since 1999. Currently listed as Senior Personnel Executive, his contributions to college and pro scouting departments are numerous and he could be a dark horse candidate for the job.
The Seahawks’ GM is a De Pere, Wisconsin native and came up within the Packers’ organization. He reportedly had an “out clause” in his previous contract that would have allowed him to leave Seattle to take the Packers’ GM job, though that is not the case in his current contract. However, the Packers could try to lure him away from Seattle — but they would need to compensate the Seahawks, presumably with draft picks, to do so. (Update: The Seahawks denied the Packers’ request to interview Schneider.)
McKenzie is the Raiders’ GM at present, but that could change depending on Oakland’s reported deal with ESPN commentator Jon Gruden to return to coaching. If Gruden wants some level of personnel control, that could feasibly make McKenzie interested in leaving, especially for a lateral move to Green Bay, where he started his front office career. (Update: McKenzie turned down an offer to interview with the Packers and is off the list.)
RUMORS AND REPORTS
(1/6, 5:20 PM CT) Brian Gutekunst reportedly will interview for the open Houston Texans’ GM job on Sunday.
(1/6, 7:10 AM CT) The Packers reportedly asked permission from the Seahawks to interview John Schneider for the GM job, but Seattle denied the request (per Ian Rapoport).
(1/5, 12:55 PM CT) Reggie McKenzie has turned down the Packers’ offer to interview for the GM job, reports Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter. This is due in large part to McKenzie maintaining his role as GM with personnel control despite the Raiders’ plans to hire Jon Gruden as their head coach.
(1/5, 11:30 AM CT) The Packers “want to interview” Eric DeCosta, assistant GM for the Baltimore Ravens, per Pro Football Talk. At present it is unclear if he will interview for the job or if he will decline the offer, as he has done in the past.
(1/5, 11:05 AM CT) Bob McGinn reports that Russ Ball remains the leader for the GM job in Green Bay, but also that Brian Gutekunst would likely stay in Green Bay as Ball’s head personnel executive in that case. However, McGinn also reports that Mike McCarthy’s relationship with Ball has soured in recent years and that the head coach told some of his assistants that he would leave the Packers if Ball were to get the job.
(1/5, 10:30 AM CT) The Packers reportedly requested to interview Vikings assistant GM George Paton, but Minnesota denied the request. (They are allowed to do so because their season is not yet over.)
(1/5: 9:00 AM CT) Brian Gutekunst is interviewing on Friday for the Packers’ GM job, per Ian Rapoport.
(1/3, 7:45 PM CT) Russ Ball is seen as the front-runner for the GM job, reports Tom Silverstein, so much so that “there is a preponderance of opinion inside and outside the organization ... that a decision was made months ago between (Mark) Murphy and (Ted) Thompson that Ball would be the next general manager.”
(1/3, 10:00 CT) “Many in the organization believe” that Russ Ball will be named the Packers’ GM, according to a report from Tom Silverstein of Packersnews.com. This comes on the heels of Mark Murphy confirming in his Tuesday press conference that he will not exclusively consider candidates who come from a scouting background, which would indicate that Ball will definitely be in the running.
(1/3, 10:00 CT) The Packers will interview Eliot Wolf for the GM job on Thursday (1/4) and will also interview Russ Ball and Brian Gutekunst sometime this week, according to Tom Silverstein.
(1/2, 2:45 PM CT) Per a report from Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Alonzo Highsmith is leaving the Packers for a job with the Cleveland Browns under John Dorsey.
(1/2, 10:25 AM CT) The Packers finally announced Ted Thompson’s change in job duties — he will officially hold the title of “senior advisor to football operations.” Click here for the full release, including quotes from president Mark Murphy.
(1/2, 10:05 AM CT) Alonzo Highsmith is reportedly meeting with the Browns’ front office about a position on John Dorsey’s staff (per Aaron Nagler). Dorsey, a former Packers executive, was hired in December as the new GM in Cleveland.
(1/2, 9:15 AM CT) According to former beat writer Bob McGinn, the Packers’ board of directors instructed team president Mark Murphy to remove Ted Thompson as GM. Murphy has since denied that he received any such instruction.
(1/2, 8:00 AM CT) Brian Gutekunst is reportedly going to be under consideration for the Texans’ vacant GM job as well, reports Ian Rapoport. Former Texans GM Rick Smith is taking a leave of absence due to his wife’s cancer diagnosis.