GREEN BAY – With Brian Gutekunst promoted to general manager, the Green Bay Packers risk losing their top voice on the pro side of their scouting department.
Eliot Wolf, the son of Hall of Famer Ron Wolf, has been with the franchise his father once led since before the 2004 draft. He has been promoted five times in the past decade and was one of four candidates to replace Ted Thompson as the team’s next general manager.
After being passed over for the Packers' job, Wolf interviewed with new Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey on Tuesday, a league source confirmed.
Wolf also has an offer from Oakland to come work with general manager Reggie McKenzie (another Ron Wolf scouting disciple) and new coach Jon Gruden, a source said.
His interview with Mark Murphy left a positive enough impression for the Packers president/CEO to give strong, public approval Monday.
“He’s going to be a general manager someday,” Murphy said. “He’s extremely talented, and I have high respect for him, and I really believe he’s got a great career ahead of him.”
That day didn’t come this past weekend. Now, Wolf’s door to the GM job in Green Bay is closed for the foreseeable future.
He has plenty of other doors open.
Murphy and Gutekunst referenced opportunities Wolf might explore outside the organization. The leading possibility would be taking a prominent role on Dorsey’s staff. Dorsey worked with Wolf in Green Bay.
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Dorsey already has plucked from the Packers' personnel department. The Packers let Alonzo Highsmith out of his contract to join Dorsey’s staff as vice president of football operations.
Gutekunst indicated he would be open to doing the same for Wolf, but he badly wants the Packers' director-football operations to stay.
“I would envision him kind of being a right-hand man to me,” Gutekunst said. “We have a great relationship. I’m very fond of the person, and the scout is excellent. I’ve told him that. I really want him to be here. But I also know he has other opportunities, and I wouldn’t hold him back from that, because I care about him.
“But if he was here, I’d like to get him more involved in the college side of stuff, and have a more broader approach to what he’s been doing.”
More involvement on the college scouting side could be an interesting carrot for Wolf.
With the Packers, Wolf has led the organization’s pro-side scouting, which includes potential free-agent targets. Gutekunst, the team’s former director of college scouting, has held the same influence scouting amateur players, highlighted with his work in the draft. In fact, Murphy said part of their interview process was reviewing Gutekunst’s draft reports on the Packers' top three picks in the past three years.
A source familiar with Wolf indicated his preference would be to leave the Packers, but said he has not yet made a decision. Perhaps the ability to not only serve as Gutekunst’s top assistant, but also gain experience on the college scouting side, could be enough enticement for him to stay. At this point in his career, Wolf’s priority is sure to be whatever gets him a GM job the soonest.
It could, however, be awkward for Wolf to remain with an organization that declined to give him the job he’s not only qualified for, the job his father once held, and instead hired a close friend.
“I’m a huge supporter of E,” Gutekunst said, “and whatever opportunities come his way, I will always sit down and talk to him about. If he’s interested in those opportunities, I’ll probably be very supportive. But it would be on a case-by-case basis. My responsibility is the Green Bay Packers, and make sure this club is at its best. But at the same time, I’m a big believer in people and have the confidence that if we lose guys, and it’s good for them and their families to go somewhere, that we can replace them and move on.
“I’ve got a network of scouts from being in this business for a long time that if we have to replace them, we can do that.”
If Wolf departs, one of Gutekunst’s most important tasks will be replenishing the Packers' scouting department. Wolf would be the second major loss this month, joining Highsmith. Gutekunst indicated Jon Wojchiechowski, the Packers' director of pro personnel, could assume more responsibility if Wolf departs. He also praised Jon-Eric Sullivan, the Packers' director of college scouting.
Even if Wolf remains on staff, Gutekunst knows the time is now to prepare a replacement. Eventually, Wolf will find a place to be a general manager, as his father once did.
“We have a very tight-knit group here right now,” Gutekunst said, “and we love that. The fact of the matter is Eliot is going to be a GM soon, whether he stays here and then becomes a GM or whether he goes somewhere else and becomes a GM. He will be a GM really quick, so there’s going to be a time when he’s not here, and we’re going to have to continue to move on.
“I think Ted has really stocked the staff ready to go if we need to make any changes.”