GREEN BAY, Wis. — For Mark Murphy, the Brett Favre questions have been replaced by the Ted Thompson questions.
For years, the Green Bay Packers president couldn’t do an interview without being asked about the team’s relationship with its former quarterback. But the once-strained relationship has been fixed and Favre was welcomed back to Lambeau Field the past two seasons — in 2015 to have his number retired and last year to receive his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ring. Murphy spoke Wednesday in a group media session and in an interview with ESPN, and Favre’s name never came up.
The same could not be said about his general manager.
Thompson turned 64 in January, and when the Packers struggled at the beginning of last season, questions about his future increased. But after Green Bay rallied to reach the NFC Championship Game, Murphy indicated that Thompson’s job was never in jeopardy nor was Thompson on the verge of retirement — a point the team president reiterated this week during an interview after the release Wednesday of the Packers’ annual financial statement.
“As long as he wants to continue to work and he’s still doing a good job — and I think he still does a great job for us — I want him to continue to be our general manager,” Murphy said of Thompson.
As Murphy said after the season, he does not have a hand-picked successor in mind.
Since then, however, a potential top candidate became available when the Kansas City Chiefs last month parted ways with general manager John Dorsey, who was a longtime Packers scout. Murphy wouldn’t say whether the Packers planned to bring back Dorsey in any capacity; that would fall under Thompson’s purview. But Dorsey is part of a lengthy list of potential replacements for Thompson, who is under contract through at least the 2018 season and possibly through the 2019 draft, although Murphy hasn’t clarified that.
Retirement seemed a possibility for Thompson even before he signed his most recent contract extension in 2014. The former NFL linebacker and special-teams standout has undergone hip replacement surgery and thus has reduced the number of scouting trips he takes.
Murphy has never hired an NFL general manager; he inherited Thompson when he became president in 2008 but signed him to the extension nearly three years ago. Thompson, who hired coach Mike McCarthy in 2006, is set to begin his 13th season in charge of the Packers’ roster.
At some point, perhaps Murphy should become concerned that he’ll lose out on possible candidates — whether former Packers scouts who have gone elsewhere to become GMs such as Dorsey, John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks) and Reggie McKenzie (Oakland Raiders) or current employees such as Eliot Wolf, Brian Gutekunst, Alonzo Highsmith and Russ Ball (who could leave for GM jobs).
Wolf and Gutekunst interviewed for multiple GM jobs this offseason before both signed new contracts with the Packers. However, there’s no indication that either one has been promised anything beyond their current positions. Wolf is director of football operations, and Gutekunst is direction of player personnel.
“I can’t tell you now who we would hire because you don’t know when that would be,” Murphy said. “But we would have a process in place when that would happen.”