Packers GM Brian Gutekunst may increase free agent acquisitions in his 'dream job'

A moment of illumination into the mind and heart of new Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst offered a moment of laughter for his boss, the man sitting next to him at the team's news conference.

"I let Mark (Murphy) know this is my dream job." - Gutekunst

"You didn't tell your agent that." - team president Mark Murphy, laughing

Levity underscored the depth of this ultimate opportunity for Gutekunst, but he sees this perhaps as a chance for the Packers to seize the opportunity for winning in the shorter term as well as longer term.

Gutekunst is a longtime veteran of the draft-and-develop philosophy of his previous boss, Ted Thompson, but he may choose more often to deviate from it than his predecessor in the quest for the Packers to win their 14th world championship and beyond in the shrinking window of the career of future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"Our foundation is going to be the draft, but I think (free agency is) an absolute must as an (additional) piece," said Gutekunst Monday.

"We have to be prepared enough to pull the trigger."

Thompson was known for a highly-conservative philosophy in using free agency, rarely choosing to spend for high-priced players in the open market. The exceptions included cornerback Charles Woodson, who led the Packers defense in the team's Super Bowl XLV season, and linebacker Julius Peppers, who assisted Green Bay to two NFC championship games in three seasons.

Perhaps inferring that particular method of free agency, Gutekunst said he was "excited to delve into some things that we haven't done in a while."

"Probably a little bit more aggressive in certain areas...we leave no stone unturned in (going after) player acquisition."

Gutekunst's tenure in Green Bay is longer than anyone in football operations, dating back 20 years.

"I want to thank Ron Wolf for giving me the chance to get into scouting," Gutekunst said about the Hall of Fame general manager who hired him and set his course with the Packers franchise.

"(Thank you) to Mark Murphy for having faith in me...and to Ted Thompson. He has been a mentor...taught me a lot of things along the way."

Gutekunst will not have exactly the same role as Thompson, for he will not oversee the coach directly. Mike McCarthy will now have Murphy as his direct boss.

"To really improve the (organizational) communication, I thought it would help for Mike to report directly to me," said Murphy.

"There are 13 teams where the head coach directly reports to the owner..7 of the playoff teams have that structure." (Murphy represents the Packers' 366,000 non-profit shareholding fan owners in his role as team president.)

Not having that direct role may give Gutekunst more time to delve into his ultimate area of control: Determining the final roster through player acquisition. However, promoted executive vice president and director of football operations Russ Ball will still handle contract negotiations for the players Gutekunst chooses.

Gutekunst will also use the counsel of Thompson, who will stay in the organization as a senior adviser.

"I would hope I can lean on him very much through this process. He obviously has a ton of experience and is a very close friend," said the new GM.

As for his message for the players currently on the roster, Gutekunst says clearly that their job is on the line after a 7-9 season, the first losing season in nine years and only the third in the last 26 campaigns.

"Nobody (should feel) safe...competition allows the cream to rise. That is where we need to go...improve the roster from the top to the bottom."

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