The Green Bay Packers went through a substantial brain drain in the front office this offseason. The transition from Ted Thompson to Brian Gutskunst as the team’s general manager was hardly seamless, as two critical members of the personnel department departed for jobs with the Cleveland Browns.
Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith took their substantial scouting abilities to Lake Erie, leaving Gutekunst with little time to rebuild a department that was suddenly his responsibility. The Packers did not add any outsiders to the front office in significant roles prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, instead promoting from within to maintain some level of continuity.
However, we know that Gutekunst did try to bring in at least one outsider shortly after the draft. Milt Hendrickson, a Wisconsin native, a colleague of Gutekunst’s at Wisconsin-La Crosse, and a dyed-in-the-wool Packers fan, was one of his friend’s targets last May. However, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome reportedly blocked him from interviewing for a job in Green Bay, according to Bob McGinn. At that time, he speculated that Hendrickson would be likely to join the Packers in the 2019 offseason, as Newsome would be unable to block him this coming year.
Now, McGinn is reporting that the deal is all but done. The former Packers beat writer reports that Gutekunst will hire Hendrickson for a “prominent front-office position” when the two teams’ 2018 seasons conclude. The speculated title is assistant general manager, which would be a significant step up from his current role as a national scout for the Ravens.
Hendrickson has worked in the Ravens organization since 2005, when he joined the team as a personnel assistant. However, he returned to his home state of Wisconsin in 2008, when he was assigned as an area scout in the Midwest region. He was promoted to national scout a few years later.
Milt’s younger brother Marcus is also a personnel executive. He spent time with the Browns and Dolphins personnel departments before the University of Minnesota hired him as their director of player personnel in 2017.
The personal connection between the elder Hendrickson and Gutekunst goes beyond simply friendship and their work together at UW-La Crosse. According to an article in the Dodgeville Chronicle from 2013, Gutekunst helped Hendrickson get an internship with the Packers’ personnel department in the summer of 2004, which apparently established his desire to work in personnel for NFL teams. After that internship finished, he was quoted as saying “I would be interested in getting a job someday for the Packers or for some other NFL organization — if the opportunity was ever there.”
The opportunity is finally here. And if there is any question about why he wants to come back to work for the Packers, consider this: his son’s name is Hutson.