Since his reign as Green Bay Packers General Manager that began in 2005, Ted Thompson has seen the Packers to a playoff berth in all but three seasons (and the last seven consecutively), a Super Bowl XLV victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, five NFC North titles … and oh yeah, selected Aaron Rodgers in his first draft as Packers GM.
The Packers have experienced the most sustained success under Thompson since the Vince Lombardi/Bart Starr years. Whether you agree with some of his decisions or not (his conservative approach to free agency most notably comes to mind), he’s been invaluable to the organization over the past decade.
Ted Thompson is now 63 years of age.
And although it seems to be absent from most Packers fans’ stream of consciousness, the time will come – most likely sooner rather than later – for Thompson to call it quits.
As reported by ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, Packers President Mark Murphy was asked about the future of the man who’s spent 18 years – in some capacity – with the Packers, and said the Packers have a plan for both how long Thompson plans to continue as the Packers General Manager, and the organizations plan for when Thompson hangs it up.
Demovsky detailed a few internal candidates to potentially succeed Thompson – Director of Player Personnel Eliot Wolf, Senior Personnel Executive Alonzo Highsmith, Scouting Director (college) Brian Gutekunst and Vice President of Football Administration/Player Finance Russ Ball.
Demovsky also mentioned Seattle Seahawks General Manager John Schneider – who is from Wisconsin, began working with the Packers scouting department while still in college, worked under Thompson in Seattle, and went back to Green Bay to serve as the Director of Football Operations before returning to Seattle for the GM position.
Other outside candidates could include John Dorsey (current GM of the Kansas City Chiefs and former Packers player and Director of College Scouting), and Trent Baalke (GM of the San Francisco 49ers and Wisconsin native).
I mentioned the sustained success that the Packers have experienced under Thompson … but it was a man by the name of Ron Wolf – who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015 – that got this entire ball rolling.
Highsmith, Ball, Dorsey, Schneider and – of course – Eliot Wolf (son of Ron), all descend from Ron Wolf front office lineage. Ron Wolf served as the Packers GM for only nine years, but the impact he left on the organization, and across the NFL, extends much past that time.
It would make sense for the Packers to keep things in Wolf coaching tree seeing as Thompson, who is also a Wolf protégé, has seen so much success. He, along with five names above, should all be toward the top of the replacement list.
My gut tells me that the two most viable candidates are Wolf and Schneider. Schneider has a long history with the Packers, and is rumored to have a clause in his contract with Seattle that would allow him to leave for his same position in Green Bay. Schneider is a proven winner (went to back-to-back Super Bowls with Seattle, winning one and coming within a play of winning a second), and has worked beneath Thompson and Ron Wolf.
But it’s Eliot who has been groomed for the position since childhood. At only 33 years old, he’s quickly climbed the Packers ranks (he’s been in a fulltime role with the Packers since 2004) and is far more experienced than his age would lead to believe.
He’s rumored to have interest from teams around the league like the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns, but seems poised to take over for Thompson when then time comes.
Who better to carry on the legacy Wolf began than his own kin? Although Thompson’s contract doesn’t expire until 2018, and only Murphy knows the true plan for a replacement at GM, expect the Wolf Legacy to carry on in Green Bay.