The Green Bay Packers didn’t go far to find their new general manager.
NFL Network insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero report Brian Gutekunst will be the Packers’ new GM. ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds Gutenkust will receive a five-year contract. The news comes after Gutekunst traveled to Houston but didn’t take an interview with the Texans, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
Houston’s GM Rick Smith has taken a leave of absence for 2018 to be with his wife after her breast cancer diagnosis. To that end, Rapoport reports Buffalo Bills Vice President of Player Personnel Brian Gaine is the favorite to take over as Texans GM. Houston was granted permission to interview Gaine earlier in the week.
As for Gutekunst, he takes over for Ted Thompson after spending 19 years in Green Bay’s front office. His front office career began in 1998 as a scouting assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs before being hired by then Packers GM Ron Wolf as a college scout in December 1998.
Gutekunst has been a popular executive to interview in recent years, which isn’t surprising considering how Green Bay’s front office churns out well-respected decision makers. In January 2017, the San Francisco 49ers interviewed Gutekunst for their open GM job before hiring John Lynch. Back in May, Gutekunst interviewed with the Buffalo Bills GM opening after the team parted ways with Doug Whaley.
Football reporter Bob McGinn (a long-time Packers writer who worked at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) suggested Head Coach Mike McCarthy would have considered leaving Green Bay if Ball was hired to replace Thompson. Additionally, ESPN Wisconsin reporter Jason Wilde told ESPN radio that quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t seem fond of Ball taking over as GM either. If that’s the case, then it appears as if that important and wildly successful duo will get their wish.
The Packers also asked to interview Raiders executive Reggie McKenzie (who declined), Seahawks GM John Schneider (Seahawks denied interview request), and Vikings Assistant GM George Paton (Vikings also denied interview request) before making their final decision to hire Gutekunst. In the end, it turns out Green Bay clearly values Gutekunst, who gets the job over a pair of fellow in-house candidates Russ Ball (Vice President of Football Administration and Player Finance) and Eliot Wolf (Director of Football Operations).