The Green Bay Packers’ 2018 offseason saw a significant brain drain in the team’s front office. After Ted Thompson rode off into the sunset as a glorified area scout, Brian Gutekunst got the vacant general manager job and Eliot Wolf departed for the Cleveland Browns. Alonzo Highsmith went with him, as the team was deprived of two of its longtime personnel men in Gutekunst’s first year on the job.
Today, however, an excellent scout with deep Packers ties is back on the market. The Raiders have reportedly fired general manager Reggie McKenzie, who was never going to survive a power struggle with Jon Gruden for long. Gruden’s ten-year contract and significant sway over personnel decisions made that arrangement untenable from the beginning, and the surprise is only that it took until now for owner Mark Davis to release McKenzie of his duties. On Sunday, a report emerged that McKenzie was expected to leave after the season, but according to Ian Rapoport, the team has elected to move on from him immediately.
Now, it’s time for Gutekunst and team president Mark Murphy to make a phone call and get him back to Green Bay.
McKenzie served in the Packers’ front office for nearly two decades, starting as a scout in 1994 and working his way up to director of player personnel. In 2012, the Raiders hired McKenzie as their GM, and he purged a roster that was deep in salary cap hell and built it up to a high-water mark of 12-4 in 2016. That year, he won the NFL’s Executive of the Year award, largely due to that turnaround.
Interestingly, Gutekunst held the director of player personnel job in Green Bay before he took over as GM. He and McKenzie worked together in the Packers’ front office for 13 years from 1999 through 2011, and should therefore have a relationship already.
Currently, the Packers have co-directors of player personnel in Jon-Eric Sullivan and John Wojciechowski. However, the team could easily bring McKenzie in as a consultant for the remainder of 2018 before reshuffling the deck in the offseason to clearly define roles and responsibilities moving forward.
McKenzie is a shrewd talent evaluator, and he helped identify several exceptional draft picks in his tenure in Green Bay. The Browns should also be interested in McKenzie, since he worked with Wolf and current Cleveland GM John Dorsey in Green Bay as well. Hopefully the prospect of returning to Titletown would lead him back to the shores of Lake Michigan rather than Lake Erie.