The Green Bay Packers made a shocking move to "transition" (read: fire nicely) general manager Ted Thompson after a disappointing 2017 season. The man replacing him will come from a similar mold, as the Packers decided to give in-house candidate Brian Gutekunst as their new general manager.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle first reported the news, noting that Gutekunst came to Houston over the weekend to interview for that vacant job -- Rick Smith stepped away for personal reasons -- but declined the Houston gig in order to take Green Bay's job.
Brian Gutekunst came to Houston Saturday and was supposed to interview today but accepted job to remain with Packers, I'm told. He wanted the GM job at Green Bay. Never had official interview with Texans.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 7, 2018
Multiple reports confirm as much, with both Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com and Adam Schefter of ESPN reporting that the contract is for five years.
The move is notable for a couple different reasons. Most notably is the Packers at least showing some interest in former scout/personnel man turned Seahawks general manager John Schneider. Schneider, a Wisconsin native, was the director of football operations for the Packers before being hired by the Seahawks in 2010.
Green Bay reached out to Seattle, according to reports, and requested an interview with Schneider, but were denied the opportunity by the Seahawks. Snagging him would have been a major coup, but the Seahawks weren't going to let that happen.
Instead the Packers were forced to focus on in-house candidates, which meant they were going to focus on Gutekunst, Russ Ball and Eliot Wolf. There are reports that Ball will stay on, working on contracts and cap matters, while Wolf sounds like he could be leaving Green Bay.
Also of interest here is this means good things for Mike McCarthy. Hiring an in-house personnel guy who aligns with his philosophy and a similar approach that Thompson took is a good thing for a coach who was given a quiet one-year extension in the middle of the last season.
As mentioned, Gutekunst falls in line with the same sort of operational approach to previous regimes in Green Bay, including the Ron Wolf tree that featured Schneider, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie and Browns GM John Dorsey.
Gutekunst, 44, was hired by Ron Wolf as a scouting intern in 1997. Left for one year and returned as a college scout. Has been with the #Packers ever since. He is steeped in the Wolf way of running football operations. Not unlike Schneider, Dorsey, McKenzie.— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) January 7, 2018
Getting anyone other than Thompson in there will probably go over well; Green Bay fans were notoriously tired of Thompson's frugal free agent ways. Add in the departure of Dom Capers and it's been a good offseason for the legions of cheeseheads begging for change over the last half decade.
Gutekunst has plenty to work with in Green Bay as well, primarily because Aaron Rodgers is on the roster. There are lots of interesting choices to make, including the future of Jordy Nelson and Clay Matthews.
It's not a long-term fix situation; the Packers will be expected to make enough moves this offseason to immediately contend in 2017. Gutekunst has a great situation where he knows the lay of the land, but the expectations will be high out of the gate.