Packers' Murphy undecided on Thompson successor

Pete Dougherty
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GREEN BAY - Mark Murphy says he has a good idea of how long Ted Thompson plans to work as the Green Bay Packers’ general manager, but he hasn’t decided on Thompson’s successor when that time comes.

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson, left, and President and CEO Mark Murphy enter Lambeau Field for the annual shareholders meeting in July 2015.

Murphy, the Packers’ president and CEO, wouldn’t say how long he expects Thompson to remain on the job though he endorsed his GM in a lengthy interview this week.

Murphy also wouldn’t comment on whether he has talked to Thompson about a contract extension. Thompson’s contract reportedly runs through the 2018 season. In January of 2019 he’ll turn 66.

“There will be a plan in place for the process to find a successor,” Murphy said.

The Packers have several candidates on staff who could succeed Thompson, starting with Eliot Wolf, who as director-football operations is Thompson’s highest-ranking scout. Wolf, 34, interviewed for GM jobs this offseason with the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts.

Russ Ball, the team’s vice president of football operations, is another candidate on staff. As is Brian Gutekunst, director of player personnel, who also interviewed for the San Francisco job.

But Murphy said he does not advocate anointing anyone as the Packers’ GM in waiting, either in writing or by oral agreement, because the NFL is too a fluid business.

“Things change so quickly I don’t want to tie the organization’s hands,” Murphy said. “And whether that would be permitted under the Rooney Rule, I’m not sure about that. But I don’t think it’s good business anyway.”

Murphy said Thompson’s and coach Mike McCarthy’s jobs never were in jeopardy during the Packers’ four-game losing streak in their just-completed season.

“We were 4-6,” Murphy said, “but I think as an organization we didn’t panic and in my mind you don’t make decisions like that in the middle of the season. You see the season play out, and obviously things changed quite a bit.”

Murphy said he thinks the Packers’ continuity at GM and coach are a big reason for the franchise’s run of eight straight playoff berths, and four appearances in the NFC championship game since Thompson and McCarthy started working together in 2006.

He is aware of the argument from some fans and observers that Thompson has taken the team as far as he can with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and that for the Packers to take full advantage of Rodgers’ final seasons they need to replace him.

“I know that Ted is an excellent GM,” Murphy said, “and (if) we make a change, there’s no guarantees. The consistent level of success that we have achieved is very difficult to do in the NFL, so I wouldn’t want to just throw that out for the chance that maybe things would be better with a different GM.”

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