With all the talk about general manager Ted Thompson’s future, it’s easy to forget that Mike McCarthy’s contract is up after the 2018 season. And since highly successful coaches almost never work on the last year of a deal, the Packers will have to make a decision sometime between now and next winter.
It’s easy to just assume McCarthy will be extended, but barring a trip to Super Bowl LII, I’m not so sure about that. Would team president Mark Murphy be willing to pay at least $8 million a year to a coach in his mid 50s whose last appearance in the big game – despite having one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history – was in 2010?
While Murphy seems far more interested in business than football, he might be tempted to hire his own GM and coach before leaving the job. Remember, he inherited both Thompson and McCarthy in 2007. And with the former likely to retire after the 2018 season, he may feel it’s time to move on from the latter as well.
Of course, moving on from McCarthy would then mean having to find a replacement. And with no obvious candidates on the current staff, that could be tricky since there are no John Schneiders, John Dorseys, Reggie McKenzies or even Scot McCloughans out there. McCarthy’s coaching tree consists of only Joe Philbin, who was a disaster in Miami and Ben McAdoo, who just finished a successful first season with the Giants.
And there’s always the possibility that McCarthy may want to move on. As happy as he seems to be in Green Bay, 12 years is an eternity for a coach to stay in one place, and he may want a fresh start – especially when you consider how many teams would offer him more control over personnel. Among the jobs that could be open next season include the Jets, Bengals, Redskins, Cardinals, Lions, Bears, Saints and Panthers.
Whatever happens, we should get a definitive answer about McCarthy’s future no later than next January. And while the odds are he’ll sign an extension, I wouldn’t bet the house on it. A lot of things can and will happen between now and then – any one of which could determine who’s coaching the Green Bay Packers in 2018.