Color us a bit skeptical here. The Green Bay Packers just recently promoted former director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst to general manger, replacing longtime GM Ted Thompson in that role.
The decision to go with an in-house candidate was met with questions from some around the NFL. If the Packers were indeed looking to move on from Thompson’s MO as general manager, why wouldn’t the team hire someone from outside the organization? After all, Gutekunst had worked under Thompson for well over a decade prior to being promoted.
In his first day as general manager, Gutekunst looked to appease a suddenly upset fan base. That included him noting that the Packers were indeed going to actually spend money in free agency…a far cry from the Thompson years.
“Our foundation is going to be the draft, but (free agency) is an absolute must as an accessory piece,” Gutekunst said, via the team’s official website (h/t Pro Football Talk). “We’re not going to be able to sign every player, (but) we want to be in the know of everything that’s going on. We have to be prepared to pull the trigger.”
Does this man Gutekunst is going to change philosophy from the man he went out of his way to thank for mentoring him?
“First, I’d like to thank my mentor, Ted Thompson, for his friendship, and I am happy that we will continue to have the chance to work together,” the new GM said Monday.
The Packers’ front office philosophy in Thompson’s 13 years as GM is by now well known. More so than any other team in the NFL, Green Bay simply refused to add high-profile free agents. To an extent, it made a lot of sense. Build through the draft and develop your players.
On the other hand, there has been major talent vacuum behind former MVP Aaron Rodgers on the roster over the past several seasons. Part of that is the Packers’ unwillingness to hit free agency.
With that said, Gutekunst made sure to note that he was going to lead the Packers’ front office in his own way.
“I’ll lead in my own personality, probably a little bit more aggressive in certain areas,” Gutekunst said. “We’re not going to leave any stone unturned in every avenue of player acquisition.”
It has been noted that Green Bay’s first order of business will be to extend Rodgers. He has two more years left on the five-year, $110 million he signed back in 2013. Depending on how that situation plays out, the Packers could be looking at just over $21 million in cap space.
Of course, the team can add a ton of room by restructuring or moving on from the likes of Randall Cobb and Clay Matthews. These are the key decisions Gutekunst will have to make in his first offseason as GM.