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GREEN BAY – Speculation about the future of general manager Ted Thompson always is rife among fans of the Green Bay Packers, and it shifted into overdrive Thursday with the news that John Dorsey is out as GM of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dorsey, the former Packers director of football operations who took the Chiefs job in January of 2013, built a reputation as one of the NFL’s most astute executives. His extensive Packers background makes him a  popular candidate as a potential successor if and when the 64-year-old Thompson, whose contract runs through the 2018 season, should choose to step down.

Renowned as a keen judge of talent, Dorsey, 56, rebuilt a Chiefs team that went 23-42 (.354) under GM Scott Pioli from 2009-'12. Kansas City has compiled a record of 44-24 (.647) under Dorsey and coach Andy Reid, who was rewarded Thursday with a contract extension.

The Chiefs did not provide an explanation for their surprising decision to let Dorsey go.

“I notified John that we would not be extending his contract beyond the 2017 season, and after consideration, we felt it was in his best interests and the best interests of the team to part ways now," Chiefs Chairman/CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. "This decision, while a difficult one, allows John to pursue other opportunities as we continue our preparations for the upcoming season and the seasons to come. My family and I sincerely appreciate John's work over the last four-and-a-half years, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future."

MCGINN: Dorsey ideal option as next Packers GM (Jan. 2017)

KANSAS CITY STAR: Chiefs fire Dorsey, extend Reid

In a Chiefs release announcing the move, Dorsey thanked Hunt for giving him the opportunity be the team’s general manager the last four seasons.

"I want to thank Clark, the Hunt family and the Chiefs fans for the opportunity to be a part of Chiefs Kingdom over the last four seasons," Dorsey said in the release. "I believe this team is well positioned for the future and I wish Coach Reid, the players and the entire organization all the best."

Kansas City went 12-4 last season and was the second-seeded team in the AFC playoffs before losing to Pittsburgh in the divisional round. Of the 53 players on the Chiefs’ playoff roster, 49 were acquired by Dorsey.

A former Packers linebacker (1984-'89), Dorsey served the Packers as a college scout from 1991-'98. After spending a year in the Seattle Seahawks front office, he returned to Green Bay as director of college scouting from 2000-'11 before being named director of football operations in 2012.

Thompson has deflected questions about how long he plans to stay in the GM job, saying they “make you feel old.” Asked after the draft in April if he thought the Packers were closer to getting back to the Super Bowl, Thompson said, “I sure hope so. I’d like to get one … or two.”

The Chiefs cut Dorsey loose with a year remaining on his contract, meaning he will be paid even if he doesn't take another job during the 2017 season.

Dorsey’s appeal in Green Bay is enhanced by his status – along with the Seahawks’ John Schneider and the Oakland Raiders’ Reggie McKenzie – as an accomplished disciple of former Packers general manager Ron Wolf. Dorsey has maintained close ties to the Green Bay area and last year bought a home in Door County.

“I always thought he was the type of guy who would want to come back to Green Bay,” one of Dorsey’s longtime friends told Bob McGinn for a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story in January. “He loves the Packers. I do know that.”

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