The Green Bay Packers will be making some major off-season moves at the head of their football operations in the coming days with the reported movement of General Manager Ted Thompson to a new role and the reported firing of defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
Who is next to take the role of GM? The odds are strong it will be someone with ties to 1265 Lombardi Avenue.
On a purely speculative basis, a short list of names:
- Eliot Wolf. He has been director of player personnel and football operations and played other roles for the Packers for a number of years. His name has popped up in nearly every general manager search recently, though no job has been enough to pry him away from Green Bay. This could be the job.
- Russ Ball. The team's director of football administration and player finance is the Packers' salary cap guru, the man who understands how to implement player personnel within the limits of the NFL's competitive balance maker. This would be an expansion of that role for him.
- Brian Gutekunst. The current director of player personnel has been with the organization for 19 years and served in both the Thompson and Ron Wolf administrations. His tenure is the longest of anyone in football operations in Green Bay.
- Mike McCarthy. Yes, the team's own head coach could add a title of executive vice president of football operations after 12 years at the helm, directing nine teams to the playoffs in that span. He has had to be, in the words of Bill Parcells, the team's cook, so the theory would be that he could finally "shop for the groceries" This could lead to Wolf being the GM as well, but working essentially FOR McCarthy instead of the traditional reversal of roles. This would be a setup much like what you see with Bill Belichick in New England, or the NBA's San Antonio Spurs with Gregg Popovich having player personnel staff be tasked and trusted with finding the right players, but with a coach's overseeing approval. Such a situation could also lead to the movement of Marvin Lewis from his coaching job in Cincinnati to play a role of defensive coordinator/assistant GM in Green Bay.
- Reggie McKenzie. Oakland's current GM built a franchise that, when Derek Carr is healthy, has the capability to be a contender, but the Raiders are in flux on the field (losing a coach) and geographically (on the cusp of a move to Las Vegas). No franchise is more stable than the Packers, and he can apply his trade in a franchise he served for 18 years.
- John Schneider. De Pere's own GM of the Seattle Seahawks constructed a squad that has won a Super Bowl and made another in the past five years, but has - similar to the Packers, whom he worked with for 12 years - missed the playoffs with several position groups needing to be re-stocked. It's always possible this has been the one job he would leave Seattle for. Despite perhaps having to pay a heavy price to get him due to his Seattle contract, perhaps this is the time, and the Packers know it.
This list is certainly the most obvious and familiar candidate list, and is incomplete. But these are the first five names that could realistically come to mind for the job.
Stay tuned. Things are getting interesting on Lombardi Avenue.