Packers general manager Ted Thompson is under contract through the 2015 season. / File/Press-Gazette Media
John Schneider, right, would have complete control over the football operation in Green Bay, whereas Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, left, final say over personnel decisions in Seattle. / File/AP
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson is under contract for two more years.
If Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy has his way, Thompson, 61, eventually will agree to a contract extension and work beyond the 2015 season.
“I don’t get into specific contract situations, but as I said before, I’m very pleased with Ted and (would) like him to continue to be our general manager in the long term,” said Murphy during a telephone interview with Press-Gazette Media on Thursday.
There is every reason to believe Thompson, who has been on the job for nine years, will continue working for the Packers until at least age 65. But then, the same was said about former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who in 2001 abruptly retired at 62 after a little less than 10 years on the job.
Thompson has said in the past his dream job after serving as general manager would be to work as a scout, which would feed his passion for football without all the hassles that come with running a team.
When asked if he had considered the possibility that Thompson might decide to retire after the 2015 season, Murphy replied: “I think Ted does a great job. I think he really enjoys his work and his job. What I try to do is give him as much support and all the resources he needs to be successful.”
In effect, Thompson can have his job for as long as he wants it, presuming the Packers continue their on-field success.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t make it to New York and play in the Super Bowl, but when you do step back and you look at it, we’re the only NFC team that’s been in the playoffs the last five years, six out of the last seven,” said Murphy. “I think there’s a lot of positives and a lot for us to build on.”
Like any good leader, Murphy has thought about contingency plans if something unforeseen happens. That includes keeping a short list of replacement candidates for important positions, including general manager.
“I think it’s kind of like when I was an athletic director,” said Murphy, who was the Northwestern AD before coming to the Packers. “You always have in the back of your mind, if coaches left or just thinking of people you think would be good candidates, I do that for any of the key positions that I work with.”
At or near the top of Murphy’s short list of potential future Packers general managers no doubt would be John Schneider, who has served as the Seattle Seahawks GM for the past four years and helped construct a Super Bowl championship team this season.
Schneider is a Green Bay area native who worked for the Packers under Wolf and Thompson. He would seem like an ideal fit as Thompson’s successor.
“Green Bay will always be home to him and his family,” said former Packers president Bob Harlan, who saw Schneider’s talents firsthand. “This is home to him. Some day that might be an extremely appealing job for him.”
If he became Packers general manager, Schneider would have complete control over the football operation in Green Bay. He doesn’t have that power in Seattle, where coach Pete Carroll holds final say over personnel decisions.
In addition, Schneider is a good friend of Packers coach Mike McCarthy, so a solid working relationship between the two would be anticipated.
Perhaps in two years or sometime farther down the road, after Schneider has taken on the challenge of keeping the Seahawks on top, he will be ready for a new test.
Schneider grew up as an avid Packers fan, so the appeal of building a championship-caliber team in his hometown, where he first cut his personnel teeth under Wolf, might be strong.
But there are no guarantees the Packers could lure Schneider away from Seattle, especially with a deep-pockets owner like Paul Allen who could back up the Brinks truck to the vault and do everything in his power to keep his talented GM.
Harlan snatched Thompson from the Seahawks’ front office in 2005 to make him the Packers’ general manager, so you can bet Allen wouldn’t want to see history repeat itself and would put up a strong fight to keep Schneider.
Schneider and those close to him understandably remain mum on the subject of a possible return to Green Bay. The last thing a newly crowned Super Bowl champion general manager needs to do is ponder another job that isn’t even vacant.
Presumably also on Murphy’s short list would be Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, who like Schneider learned from Wolf and Thompson.
Murphy also would likely consider Wolf’s son, Eliot, who by all accounts is a chip off the old block and began sitting in on player evaluation film sessions with his father at age 10.
Eliot Wolf, 31, serves as one of Thompson’s top advisers as the Packers’ director of pro personnel. His relative youth should not be a deterrent for general manager consideration, since Schneider was placed in charge of the Washington Redskins’ personnel decisions at age 29, and Ron Wolf headed up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ personnel department at 36.
Russ Ball, the Packers’ vice president of football administration/player finance, also has been mentioned as a potential general manager candidate although some believe he might be better suited as Murphy’s eventual successor.
When exactly Thompson decides to walk into the sunset is anybody’s guess, but Murphy will have to be prepared for that eventuality. His most logical step would be to stay close to the Ron Wolf personnel tree in choosing a replacement.
“You could certainly do worse than to go back and continue the group that Ron put together,” Harlan said. “It’s obviously worked. It’s worked for 22 years. You like to stick with success, and I think you’ve always got to consider anybody who left here, if they would ever want to come back, they certainly have talents to come back and keep a strong football team on the field for you.”
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.