Packers notes: New general manager free to pursue free agency

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson walks onto the field during Family Night at Lambeau Field

GREEN BAY - Whoever is hired to be the Green Bay Packers' next general manager, team president and CEO Mark Murphy plans to be as hands off when it comes to football operations as he was with Ted Thompson.

That includes the franchise's approach to free agency. Under Thompson, no team in the NFL was as reluctant as the Packers to dabble in the open market. The Packers went a league-record five years without signing an unrestricted free agent before ending that stretch last spring when they reached a deal with tight end Martellus Bennett.

If Murphy would like to see his team be more active in free agency, he kept those feelings to himself.

"That's going to be the general manager's decision," Murphy said. "There's a lot of different ways to build a team. I know Ted's a lightning rod, and I've heard from a lot of people about our free-agent strategy and things of that nature, but I'm not going to tie the hands of the next general manager. I'll be supportive of him and encourage him to do everything we can to bring a championship here."

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Root canal: It was only fitting that Thompson was absent for his own farewell news conference.

Since the Packers hired him as their general manager in 2005, no top executive in football has been more elusive to the public than Thompson. It’s a point Murphy made in his opening remarks.

“Some of you,” Murphy said to the assembled media, “may be wondering why Ted is not here. No disrespect to any of you, but Ted enjoys dealing with you about as much as a root canal. That was meant to be a joke. But seriously, those of you who know Ted, he doesn’t enjoy dealing with the media. If he had his way, he would never have any interaction with the media, he wouldn’t.”

All fine, except as the Packers' top football executive, the general manager has ultimate authority over roster decisions. Considering the organization’s shareholder model, the Packers general manager also has no one owner holding him accountable.

Thompson’s absence from the public neglected part of his responsibilities as general manager, often putting coach Mike McCarthy in the uncomfortable position to explain to the team’s fan base roster decisions he did not make. There still is no official reason why Thompson chose to release All-Pro left guard Josh Sitton before the 2016 season, a shocking move at the time. Free agents routinely come and go with fans questioning why, but never getting an answer.

Murphy said he’ll address being more available to his fan base through the media with the Packers' next GM, though it might ultimately depend on personality and temperament.

“I don’t think the new GM could do less than Ted did,” Murphy said. “So, and it’s a fine line. I don’t mean any disrespect to Ted at all, and I fully appreciate, but he just did not enjoy talking with any of you. And nothing to do with you. But yeah, you look across the league, GMs have different approaches. Some are much more involved with media and talk, but yeah, I think obviously it’s going to be something I’ll talk about with the new GM.

“There’s some positives that come from it, but obviously there’s some downsides, too. And obviously, Ted saw some of the downside and decided not to be overly involved.”

Retained: The Packers announced they re-signed half their practice squad to deals that will retain them on the offseason roster. The five were receiver DeAngelo Yancey, receiver Jake Kumerow, receiver Colby Pearson, tight end Robert Tonyan and long snapper Zach Triner.


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