The Green Bay Packers didn’t have to look far to find Ted Thompson’s replacement at general manager. The toughest challenge they had was picking one of their three capable candidates.
On Sunday, the Packers decided on director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst to replace Thompson, the longtime GM who was reassigned in the organization. Multiple reports confirmed Gutekunst will be Green Bay’s next GM. Gutekunst was the pick over vice president of football administration/player finance Russ Ball and director of football operations Eliot Wolf.
The Packers moved quickly to hire Gutekunst, who was getting interest from other teams. The Texans reportedly were going to hire him for their GM opening. Gutekunst has spent the past 19 seasons in the Packers personnel department, working his way up from being a regional scout to the GM job. The Texans, and other teams looking to add to their front office, might now be interested in Ball or Wolf.
Gutekunst takes over a situation that has its positives and negatives. The positive is that the Packers are already a Super Bowl contender, assuming Aaron Rodgers is healthy. Gutekunst doesn’t have to look for a franchise quarterback, which is the toughest challenge a GM has. However, there will be immediate pressure on him because of what Thompson did, and the presence of Rodgers. Gutekunst will be expected to deliver the Packers another Super Bowl before Rodgers retires, and anything less than that will be considered a disappointment. That’s a tough challenge, and it won’t be easy to improve upon what Thompson did. Thompson was a fantastic general manager, although his aversion to free agency might have held the Packers back the past few seasons. It will be interesting to see if Gutekunst has a much different approach, and also what the hiring means for coach Mike McCarthy in the short and long term. There was a report from former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Bob McGinn that if Ball had gotten the GM job, McCarthy might be gone.
Even though the Packers stayed with an in-house candidate to be its new GM, it’s still a major change for a franchise that has very few major changes through the seasons. Gutekunst finds himself in a pretty good spot, but he’ll have a ton of pressure to build on the foundation Thompson set.
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