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Cory's Corner: Now it's up to Ted Thompson

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Cory's Corner: Now it's up to Ted Thompson

The ball is in Ted Thompson’s court now.

On Monday night it was widely reported that Eliot Wolf will interview for the 49ers general manager job on Thursday.

Wolf has been considered a future star in football circles. The 34-year-old is the Packers director of football operations while patiently waiting until he gets his turn to drive Green Bay’s personnel bus.

The question is Thompson. He turns 64 in a couple weeks and it was reported on Sunday that he may step aside following the season to ensure that the Packers can retain Wolf. If Thompson does indeed step down as general manager, he would become a senior scouting adviser.

Thompson took over as general manager in 2005 and the Packers are an amazing 118-73 under his watch, with a Super Bowl title and three NFC Championship Game appearances. He has drafted Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthews, Mason Crosby, Josh Sitton and Mike Daniels. In 12 seasons though, Thompson has only signed five big-ticket free agents — with the seldom-used Cedric Benson being one of those.

The reason why many Packers fans still cannot smile when they hear the name Ted Thompson is because of the trade that tore the fan base apart. Thompson did the unthinkable and traded shoo-in Hall of Famer Brett Favre. It was a head scratcher at the time, but I think it has worked out just fine.

Thompson hasn’t spoken to the media in a long time, but he was asked by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn in 2015 about how many more years he has left and this is what he said: “This is kind of like family for me. Like I said, I enjoy the scouting part of it. I enjoy the preparation for draft time. I enjoy the tit and tat in free agency. Planning out where we’re going to be this time next year. Most everybody right this second is thinking about the first preseason game or the first regular-season game. I’m thinking about beyond that, and I enjoy that kind of thinking.”

If Thompson leaves to open up a spot for Wolf, that’s unselfish forward thinking. Thompson cares more about the health of the organization that he helped to maintain, which was started by Eliot’s father Ron, than staying around and leaving the Packers pondering what the future holds.

“I don’t know that I’ve imprinted any kind of stamp on it,” Thompson told McGinn. “I’ve always tried to do things in an honest, forthright way and to lead in that regard. To ask for wisdom from up on high so that I can make the right decisions. What I’d like to leave here is people would say we did things the right way. And that’s a lot easier said than done because there are traps along the way.”

Being the general manager of the Packers isn’t easy. Expectations are sky high every season and the far-reaching fan base holds the brass inside 1265 Lombardi Ave. accountable.

Did Thompson always make the right moves? No. He could’ve brought in versatile speedster Darren Sproles in 2011 and Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez in 2014.

But that’s the balancing act of juggling the present to appease the future. And it’s also why Thompson never believed in the quick-fix in the NFL, because teams like Buffalo, Washington and even Dallas before its recent resurgence, have resided in salary cap graveyards after many busts. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (69) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

WKUPackFan's picture

It's always been a question of whether one wants long-term success or an uncertain attempt at one year glory. Look at Denver. Elway mortgaged the future for a shot at a Super Bowl win. Denver got that win, but at the cost of mediocrity this year and years to come.

Nick Perry's picture

That's a good point but I think Denver's struggles come down to one position, QB. Osweiler wasn't the answer at QB and Elway knew it and wouldn't go a penny higher than he did to keep him. Depending who takes over as HC at Denver, I'd bet a large amount of money Elways tries to trade for or sign Romo if cut. The Cowboys are already in the red for the 2017 season if you look at the cap as it is today. Obviously they make moves to fix this but Romo would be a HUGE part of getting space to work with IMO.

Horse's picture

Denver's problem is not at QB. On offense the major problem is the O line, and that's on the GM. Like the Packers, they also lost their prime RB to injury. The lack of offense put more pressure on the defense. On defense, they lost a couple important LB contributors to FA and then lost another to injury.

Nick Perry's picture

Yup, they lost Jackson and Trevathan to name a few, but without a QB you won't go far in the NFL, basically your screwed. Losing Anderson at RB was only part of the problem and so was the O-Line. Seattle has a putrid O-Line, lost their RB's for all or huge chunks of the year and some Defensive players but still managed to get in. Their QB wasn't to bad but you can still win

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The $19.7M dead money hit on trading Romo must be a bit of a buzzkiller, even if trading him does give some $5M in cap savings (it would bring Dallas to negative $457K in cap space for 2017).

What can Dallas get given that Romo will be 37 years old in 2017 season and his contract will still have cap # of $14M, $19.5M in 2018, and $20.4M in 2019, though none of the money will be guaranteed for his new team. I don't remember his injury situation that well, but it seemed nasty. I saw what Bradford was worth, and the upside is higher with Romo. I can't see Dallas being able to squeeze a 1st rounder from someone unless it was conditional, but I might be underestimating the desperation of some GMs. Still, the new team has to be a team that isn't re-building. Denver does fit that bill.

The TKstinator's picture

He'd leave the team in much better shape than when he took over. (Cough, Sherman, cough)

dobber's picture

I always thought Sherman was a good coach, but the decision to install him with his limited experience as GM was a head-scratcher. He did his best to thin out the talent on the roster.

The TKstinator's picture

I'm sure Joe Johnson thought Sherman was a good GM.

dobber's picture

No doubt!'s picture

I think that Bob Harlan didn't want to lose him as Coach and have to replace two parts. He did a good job as Coach but when you added the GM Duties the line between the two became blurred...

The Coach said: I need this! The GM said: Okay! Sherman (the Coach) didn't have the necessary appreciation of the value of the draft picks. To Coach Sherman, they were markers to be used to move up in the draft not valuable future members.

Also when Thompson came in, it's been stated that Sherman was resentful about losing the GM role and really didn't buy into Thompson's philosophy of Draft & Develop. That's critical for Draft & Develop's Success.

Nick Perry's picture

If the 1st rumor is true, Thompson steps aside and is the Packers Senior Scouting Advisor isn't it a win/win for everyone, most of all the Packers?

Thompson gets to do what he loves and enjoys the most, scouting.
Green Bay keeps Wolf instead of losing a 4th Front Office Personnel man (Schneider, Dorsey, and McKinzie) to another NFL team. I think Wolf is going to make a excellent GM. He's learned from 2 of the best ever, Thompson and his Father.

My hope is Thompson does step aside. This IMO would be the best for the Packers in both the long and short term health of the club. The Packers just might benefit more with Thompson just concentrating on scouting than dealing with all the other GM duties.

Do not let Wolf get away!!

RCPackerFan's picture

I think it makes a lot of sense if Thompson does step aside. He would be stepping into a role where he can still mentor the people below him and he is still there to help guide whoever the new GM is.

I hope Wolf doesn't get away, but we do have to be a bit cautious cuz we don't know exactly what type of GM Wolf will be. But he is set up really well to succeed.

dobber's picture

"I hope Wolf doesn't get away, but we do have to be a bit cautious cuz we don't know exactly what type of GM Wolf will be"

Ding! Ding! Ding!
It's the backup QB phenomenon: who's the most popular player on a team that's perceived as struggling? The guy who's next in line behind the person you like least. I for one am glad that #12 never found his way to the bench....

caruso81's picture

OK, but that seems like a justification to never make a change. Don't promote Rodgers because you don't know if he's any good. Don't put Montgomery at RB because you don't know if he'll have success. Give Majkowski his job back when his ankle heals because you're just not sure about this Favre guy.

Ted Thompson has had great success, but I think most would acknowledge that his narrow personnel philosophy has limited the Packers at times.

Finally, if Ted sticks around through next year, and Wolf goes to the 49ers, who is out there who is better. Russ Ball, maybe? No one is a sure thing, but the learning curve on Wolf with Thompson as an executive scouting guru is zero. And maybe we'd sign a free agent at CB.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

@ Caruso - We are discussing TT, not MM, right?

Turophile's picture

So much talk about Eliot little about Gutenkunst.

Even assuming TT steps down (no signs yet that he is), who knows which would be the better GM in Green Bay. Lets not go overboard because one guy has a famous father.

As for Jennerjohn's 'head scratching' decision to trade Favre, it was never that, it was the obvious way forward. No revisionist history, please.

dobber's picture

We all live under the assumption that the organization is more enamored with Wolf than it is with Brian Gutekunst or Alonzo Highsmith or Russ Ball one of the others sitting behind Wolf in the management pecking order. We keep hearing very good things about these guys as well. Just because we keep hearing about Wolf doesn't mean he's the next guy or the best guy to succeed TT. I'll be honest: I'd like to see John Schneider come back to GB over any of these relative unknowns hiding behind TT in the war room.

I think it would be very hard for any of us to step aside from a job that we (supposedly) love--especially if we feel we're doing it well--just to make room for the next guy. TT needs to "follow his heart": if he still loves what he's doing and isn't ready to step aside, he shouldn't. That's the kind of respect I think any of us would want from others in making this kind of decision.

Houndog's picture

Oh really, "hiding behind TT", I hadn't heard that assumption before, where do you get your info? Nearly every article written holds all of these guys in high regards, I doubt they need to hide.

dobber's picture

I admit, that might not be the best choice of words, but all decisions ultimately are the responsibility of TT--as many of us have been very vocal about here over the years. The buck stops with him. But who knows who has his ear and is the most influential in these decisions--and ultimately is the prime mover toward decisions. TT takes responsibility for it, so we never know who's initiatives these decisions actually that sense, these guys are all "hiding" behind TT.

dschwalm's picture

"In high REGARD"

caruso81's picture

This is a really good point. Just because the fans like Wolf doesn't mean he's a much the heir apparent as we think he is.

Houndog's picture

I've been screaming all year for TT to step aside while watching other teams pick up reasonable free agents that could have helped the Pack, RB Reese in Oakland being the most recent.
With Wolf you get a guy that's grown up not only in the business, but in the Packers' organization while at the same time inheriting at least) 2 experienced and qualified advisors in his father and TT.
Don't let Wolf get away!

Horse's picture

Contrary to fan religion, signing more and higher paid FAs is not only not a guarantee of more success, it can have the opposite effect. The most recent howl I remember was about the Bears signing of Trevathan. He ate up nearly $6.4M of cap space and appeared in 9 games (besides the fact that he wanted to play for John Fox making it unlikely GB could get him without breaking the bank). What else could you do with that $12M guarantee he got?

Also, it frequently takes a while for 1st year FAs to integrate into a new system. Like Jared Cook.

caruso81's picture

I don't that think anyone here has suggested we go bat crap crazy in FA. Just a little more open mindedness and maybe look at just one or two higher end guys sometime before August.

RCPackerFan's picture

The question I have is if the rumor is true that Thompson is going to step asside after the year to allow Elliot to take over as GM, then why is Wolf interviewing with the 49ers?

Thompson deserves a lot of credit for taking over the roster he had and turning it into a super bowl team. He deserves a lot of credit for finding a lot of talent throughout his tenor. Bringing in Charles Woodson when a lot of teams shied away.

If Thompson does step aside to allow Wolf to take over he might be making another great decision.

I said on Twitter last night that this has an eerily similar feeling to the situation when Favre retired and Rodgers was taking over. We saw Rodgers a bit but had no idea how good he was actually going to be. We had the proven player that we knew just like we have Thompson who we know. And we have the unproven guy in Wolf who like Rodgers at that time, we don't know how good he will actually be. He is set up really well and has had really good mentors to learn from.

NashvilleCheesehead's picture

One word -- LEVERAGE!!

RCPackerFan's picture

I get that, but if the article/rumor is true, and its Wolfs job to take over. What leverage is there to gain? If its his job already, then there really isn't any leverage.

That's why I question if that article is true.

Or perhaps this will force Thompson to step aside?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Why would he not pursue his career goals? Especially with team that has good ownership and a bunch of cap space to work with. San Fransisco is a greae place to live.

zeke's picture

San Francisco is a fantastic place to live and there are only so many GM jobs, but by all accounts Jed York is a meddlesome idiot and the 49ers are a dumpster fire. Firing coaches in consecutive years is usually a sign of something, and good ownership isn't one of them.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yeah, your right. I forgot about him. Was just thinking about how long the DeBartolo's have been there.

dobber's picture

Maybe there's more challenge for him in taking over a team (SF) that's bottomed out like that one has. People keep pointing to Ron Wolf and his being a great mentor, maybe Eliot Wolf is looking to make his mark in a similar way: by trying to revive a doormat that is one of the NFLs marquee names.

I'll be honest, it may be riskier to his career and reputation in GB, where there's very little room to move up (and a fan base that's becoming less and less forgiving) and a huge drop to the bottom, than in SF where there's only one real direction to go.

zeke's picture

All true, assuming he were given the same amount of control that his father was (i.e., all of it). It just doesn't seem that the Yorks work that way. I thought I saw an article that suggested the 49ers had already identified Kyle Shanahan as their target for the HC position. Seems backwards, if true.

packerbackerjim's picture

More than leverage, it's setting the Worth of Eliot Wolf. He may settle for less with the Pack if he truly likes GB, but he will have a starting point in negotiating his contract.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Bringing in Charles Woodson when a lot of teams shied away."

If you believe want you can read it was John Schneider who pushed hard for Woodson and Pickett and Thompson gave in.

RCPackerFan's picture

Very well could have been. And it wouldn't surprise me. Schneider is a much more aggressive GM.

Regardless Thompson was the GM and ultimately he had the final say on it and he said yes to it.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I get dislikes for stating something has been written and you may or may not believe it. hahahaha.

dobber's picture

"The question I have is if the rumor is true that Thompson is going to step asside after the year to allow Elliot to take over as GM, then why is Wolf interviewing with the 49ers?"

A wise mentor once told me that you never turn down an interview (unless, of course, that interview could get you fired). You learn a lot from others while they're trying to learn about you. The more you see, the better you'll be...

dschwalm's picture

Very true in business, Dobber.

zeke's picture

Does anyone know why GB was able to deny Wolf the opportunity to interview for the Lions GM position last year but not this year? If they could block Wolf again (or Gutekunst) but chose not to, perhaps that's a sign that TT isn't planning on going anywhere.

rdent's picture

Go to

Since '61's picture

Stepping aside is difficult especially when you have built the organization and have a sense of ownership about the organization. However, if TT does in fact feel that way then he should want the organization to continue to be successful. Therefore he should step aside for Wolf. How much longer will he realistically stay on anyway. Another 3 maybe 4 years. What for? He has nothing left to prove. He can move into scouting full time, which he loves, and allow Wolf to take over and still be around to guide and counsel Wolf. Which is a win-win for everyone. To me the question is, how much does Wolf want to remain in GB? The 49ers can probably offer more money than the Packers, plus the lure of living in California without the Wisconsin winters. What is important to Wolf and his family? Maybe this is not a good time to move his children, assuming he is married and has children. All of these may enter into his decision. Maybe he wants to get some actual GM experience and return to the Packers in 3,4 or 5 years after he learns if can do or even likes the GM position. It's difficult to say but it doesn't hurt him or the Packers to at least have the conversation with the 49ers. It may help him make a decision to stay in GB rather than leave. Time will tell. I hope he stays because if he leaves he may take other GB staff members with him as well. Thanks, Since '61

caruso81's picture

What you say makes good sense, but I think we've seen Ted is pretty convinced that he's always right... you really have to be in that position. He may not see his own retirement as the best thing for the organization.

I think we all want Wolf if only because it's new and potentially more exciting.Ted may be often great, but he's as boring as watching paint dry.

The TKstinator's picture

"as boring as watching paint dry" lol
But I've heard him say "I've got sizzle"!
Anybody else heard that clip?

davy jones's picture

All great points '61. Here's another factor. Does Wolfe want to risk forever living in his father's shadow (not to mention Ted's) and constantly be compared to him. That would be a daunting prospect for any young man. Would it be more appealing to him to go somewhere where the bar has been set fairly low (at least recently) and not have to face the inevitable "Ron would have never done that" every time a decision didn't work out.

dschwalm's picture

Excellent post, Davy!

Free agent's picture

TT is a recluse that dislikes speaking to the media. Time for Ted to go behind the scenes and finish out his football career. Ted head to Florida or Southern California and get some sun on those pale legs. See Ya Ted!

croatpackfan's picture

I understand fan's infatuation with Ron Wolf's son. Ron Wolf is Packers savior. He brought Brett Favre to Packers, hired great HC and brought SB title back after years of bleeding. Ted Thompson continued his job (with little, but important break). Now everybody thinks Eliot is Ron! No, Eliot is not Ron. That is why post made by Since is very important. But even he is not considering one thing. And that is Peters' principle, which might have be very important in how Eliot will do his GM job. He might be exposed, but maybe he is much better than Ron and Ted together.
That is unknown territory, and if/when Eliot become Packers GM I hope for Packers he will be that much better guy...

stockholder's picture

Step Aside! Step Aside! Retire!. TTs an old goat and is starting to smell up the place. Make the Packers Great Again.

Mags's picture

Time for Ted to go. His drafts lately have had more misses lately then years before. And his refusal to open up more to free agency has had even McCarthy questioning him.

California Packer's picture

Are you guys for real? You want to hire as your GM a 34 year-old with no scouting experience except 5 years as an intern? Let's face it, if his name was Smith or Jones we would all be laughing. at his nerve of even thinking he would have a job. If his dad wasn't named Ron, he would be working at Burger King take-out window.
I have a better suggestion, go get a proven GM who is a proven entity instead of a wanna-be.

pooch's picture

snooze you loose

stockholder's picture

CP- The greenBay Packers use the hired scouting systems now. They also contact the league office about players. So it's more information than TT. The packers use their scouts more for research, than evaluation. Tt takes a scheme player over a great player now. He's a GM now and not a scout. ( TTs blarney stone works. ) In other words, it's luck of the draft and what retread works with TT. I see TT as a politician now, more than a proven GM.

gary's picture

TT has to go. Please Please When shields went down, TT should have tried to find a veteran CB before the trade dead line. Even to just add experience to that group. But god forbid he give up a draft pick to a team going nowhere. Someone will respond on this site how do i know he didn't try. A good GM gets that done. Again he is so conservative it sickens me. If the Pack didn't have rodgers on this team they would have a losing record and MM and TT WOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED A LONG LONG LONG TIME AGO.

Free agent's picture

No Doubt! This team would be in the running for the 1st pick in the draft without Rodgers

zeke's picture

The guy that Thompson drafted.

Dancing Eddy's picture

Tt is an extremist and extremist are always a problem, in any aspect of life. For example, cutting Woodson when the leadership alone that he provided was needed (too many young guys on defense) and worth it. Far too many others have slipped by, like Avril and Gonzalez, that were not really gambles, and were seriously needed also.
Tt is always saving cap space, but we do not know what he saves it for.....sometimes you just have to go for it, and he does not bend in his ideas, hence many wasted years as the pack is a 80 or90 percent good team but cannot deep in the playoffs because of lack of veteran leadership or poor performance art key positions like tight end for too long.

Golden Retriever's picture

I heard on ESPN radio today that Russ Ball may be the likeliest successor to Ted Thompson, because Ball and McCarthy have a long history together and if Ball is the GM, McCarthy will remain as head coach in Green Bay.

dobber's picture

I would argue that retaining McCarthy should only be a small component in the selection of the next GM of the Packers.

zeke's picture

If Thompson were to step aside it seems likely that his position will be filled by Wolf, Ball, Highsmith, or Gutekunst. The idea that one of them would make firing McCarthy the first order of business seems a little far-fetched, but I guess anything is possible.

dobber's picture

All of these guys have been around for awhile...they all should have some kind of working relationship with MM. I just don't see them canning him either.

10 years ago, who would've thought that the Ted Thompson GM tree would have as many branches as it does at this point?

Hematite's picture

Go Ted Go!!!

egbertsouse's picture

I think we will be stuck with Tightwad Ted and his B- teams until he is carried out in a pine box.

I prefer Elway's approach to the constant "back your way into the playoffs and go one-and-done" TT approach. I know that's blasphemy around these parts though.

zeke's picture

It's not blasphemy, it's just not accurate. When is the last time they "backed into" the playoffs? And if making the playoffs 8 straight years and winning one title only gets you a B-, what curve are you grading on? There are lots of valid criticisms to be made about Thompson, but the idea that this franchise is only slightly above average during his tenure is ridiculous.

dschwalm's picture

"Ridiculous" in your mind. I, too like the alternative of a B- team, and that grade was assigned by an SI writer....with which many agree. One SB with this QB is a shame!~

al bundy's picture

Now that thers puny.

vj_ostrowski's picture

If we lose any member of Wolf, Gute, and Highsmith just to give the job to Ball, I'm going to be livid.

And I'm usually the Packer optimist, but why do I get the sneaking suspicion that this is exactly what's going to happen?

al bundy's picture

I hope he stays or I cant bitch about his piss poor drafting and cheap ass refusal to get free agent talent.
Wow playoffs division win

dobber's picture

Here's an interesting read for those who might not have seen it.

stockholder's picture

Gutetkunst will be the new GM of SF. Wolf will take over for TT. Dorsey stays in KC.

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