GREEN BAY - Nearly two months after dismissing wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur unveiled staff changes that include moving offensive assistant Jason Vrable to the receivers position.
In addition to promoting Vrable, LaFleur added passing game coordinator to quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy’s title and confirmed the hiring of former University of Miami offensive line coach Butch Barry to his staff. Barry will be a senior analyst.
LaFleur did not comment on the staff changes.
Vrable, who played quarterback in college, has never been a full-time receivers coach, assisting mostly with quarterbacks and running backs during his 14 years as a coach, eight of them in the NFL. His only other time in charge of a position was in 2016 when he was named interim running backs coach three weeks into the season.
Former coach Mike McCarthy hired Vrable as offensive assistant in 2019 and LaFleur kept him on staff in the same position. Previously, he had worked two years (2017-18) as an offensive assistant with the New York Jets and four years with the Buffalo Bills (’13-16), three as a quality control assistant.
In his six years in the college ranks, Vrable coached receivers once, serving as a position assistant for Syracuse in 2009.
The wide receivers roster could be vastly different this year with an influx of young talent expected. It is one of the deepest drafts in decades at the receiver position and the Packers will try to take advantage of it after leaving the position barely stocked beyond Davante Adams last season.
Getsy’s promotion may allow him more time to work with both the quarterbacks and receivers. He served as receivers coach under McCarthy from 2016-17 and the results he got were part of the reason he was able to move into an offensive coordinator’s job with Mississippi State in 2018.
He returned last year to coach quarterbacks, which is a good stepping-stone for NFL coordinator positions.
It’s unclear whether LaFleur considered his brother, Mike, for the passing game coordinator position. Mike LaFleur holds the same title in San Francisco and coach Kyle Shanahan allowed his contract to run out so he could pursue a job with his brother, if he so chose.
But Mike LaFleur accepted a contract extension with the 49ers less than two weeks after his brother fired Whitted, ending the possibility of them being reunited. It’s unlikely the Packers coach sought his brother for the receivers position, which would be a step down from the job he has now.
But LaFleur could have asked Getsy to move to receivers if Mike LaFleur had come aboard as passing coordinator.
Though it took two months for him to decide on Vrable, it doesn’t appear he looked hard outside the organization for Whitted’s replacement. Another option LaFleur had was to promote quality control assistant Kevin Kroger, who has more experience coaching receivers than Vrable but not as much experience coaching in the NFL.
Barry’s hiring was reported last week but had not been made official.
A Sturgeon Bay native, Barry coached the offensive line for the Hurricanes last season but was fired after one year. Prior to that, he was an assistant offensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Barry attended and coached at Central Michigan, although his time did not overlap the two years (2004-05) that LaFleur spent there as a graduate assistant.
However, LaFleur grew up in Mount Pleasant, where Central Michigan is located, and his father coached there for 20 years, so it’s likely they connected there. Barry was a graduate assistant at CMU in ’02-03 before leaving to coach the offensive line at Southwest Minnesota State.
Barry is the second offensive coach to be hired during the offseason, joining quality control assistant Connor Lewis.
» The Packers made tight end Jimmy Graham's departure official by announcing the termination of his contract.
The move was widely reported Tuesday, including on a Twitter post from Graham thanking the Packers organization for his two years with the club.
Graham did not miss any games and caught 93 passes for 1,083 yards (11.6 average) and five touchdowns in 32 regular-season games and seven passes for 108 yards (15.4) in two postseason games.
Graham made $22 million in his two seasons with the Packers. He was scheduled to make $8 million this year, all of which will come off the team’s salary cap, putting them between $25 million and $35 million under the 2020 salary cap.
» Free-agent linebacker Christian Kirksey, who played two seasons for Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine when Pettine was the head coach in Cleveland, visited the Packers on Thursday after being released this week. Kirksey played in only two games for the Browns last season and only seven in 2018 because of injuries. He visited the Raiders on Wednesday.
» Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard earned $307,304 in performance-based play in the 2019 season, according to figures released Thursday.