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Sizing Up GM Candidates

Longtime general manager Ted Thompson will transition into a new role, and the search for his replacement will begin immediately. There would appear to be three strong internal candidates for the job, as well as one from the outside.

The following is a brief look at the four men, one of whom will likely be named the 11th general manager in the history of the Green Bay Packers by the end of the month:

RUSS BALL – The team’s VP of football administration/player finance is highly regarded by Mark Murphy and Mike McCarthy, but he would be the most unorthodox choice and also the one that would create the most waves. Because the 58-year-old is more of a cap guy than a football guy, he’d have to be paired with an experienced scout. And that’s where things could get sticky. It’s hard to imagine any of the top members of the personnel department sticking around after being passed over – or sticking around for long. So why bother even considering him? Well, of all the internal candidates, he would have the best working relationship with McCarthy, who figures to still be around when the dust settles.

BRIAN GUTEKUNST – The team’s director of player personnel is behind Eliot Wolf in the hierarchy of the front office, but there’s a sense he might be held in higher regard by Murphy, Thompson and others in the league. He also goes way back with McCarthy. The two first worked together in Kansas City in the late 1990s. The 44-year-old has been with the Packers since 1999, spending the majority of his time scouting college players before being promoted to his current position in March 2016. It’s difficult to imagine him getting the general manager job over Wolf, but as we all found out on Monday, pretty much anything is possible.

JOHN SCHNEIDER – Logic tells you he’d be the top candidate for the job if not for that pesky contract extension he signed with Seattle in July 2016. Still, it would be a mistake to dismiss the 46-year-old as a candidate. If he wants the job and the Packers are willing to offer compensation, there’s always a chance the Wisconsin native could come home. Would he be worth, let’s say, a day 2 draft pick? That’s a no-brainer if Murphy thinks he’s the best man for the job. Do you think former GM Ron Wolf regrets giving up a No. 2 for Mike Holmgren 25 years ago? Would the Seahawks be interested? Possibly, considering they don’t have a second or third-round pick this year and they do have a pair of highly regarded personnel guys ready to be GMs.

ELIOT WOLF – In theory, the GM job should be his. After all, the 35-year-old has been Thompson’s right-hand man for the past three years. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that he’s never really been seen as the heir apparent. If he were, why was he allowed to interview for multiple jobs last March? And why would he want to? That said, this hire would create the fewest ripples. Wolf would be the GM, Gutekunst could replace him as director of football operations and harmony would remain inside 1265 Lombardi Ave. It’s easily the most sensible thing to do. Whether Murphy also thinks it’s the right thing to do is a whole other question.

Other names that could be bandied about in the coming days and weeks include Green Bay’s senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith, current Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie and former San Francisco and Washington GM Scot McCloughan. And while it’s unlikely that any of these three men will get the job, stranger things have happened. Heck, just yesterday McCarthy finally fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers.

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About Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for close to 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2006. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.