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Examining post-Ted Thompson options for the Packers

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson during NFL football training camp Thursday, July 30, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

Around the rest of the NFL, a general manager with the reputation of Ted Thompson isn’t going to need a vote of confidence.

In Green Bay, where there is “just” one Super Bowl championship in the Aaron Rodgers era, expectations are skewed a bit, so team President Mark Murphy was forced to state the obvious while meeting local beat reporters after the public franchise’s annual financial disclosure news conference.

“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 — we want him to continue to be our general manager,” Murphy claimed via the Wisconsin State Journal.

There has been speculation for a few years now that the 64-year-old Thompson would be retiring soon, and that has had repercussions all the way to Kansas City and even farther west, where former Packers personnel gurus like John Dorsey, John Schneider and Reggie McKenzie all rose to the title of general manager.

Things picked up even more when Dorsey was recently jettisoned by Clark Hunt and the Chiefs despite four impressive seasons at the helm.

Many around the league have believed that whenever Thompson did decide to walk away, Dorsey, who started his NFL sojourn as a player with the Packers, would be the replacement.

Now that Dorsey is on the street and sure to garner a lot of interest in the next hiring cycle, it’s easy to speculate that Green Bay might not want to miss out on a 10- or 15-year answer for one or two more years of Thompson.

Murphy, however, claims that is not even worth discussing.

“At a point he decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore for whatever reason, then we would do a search,” Murphy claimed.

No personnel department in football is as well-regarded as the one the Packers have built and Thompson has stewarded for the last 12 years.

Along with the branches already around the league, current Thompson lieutenants Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst have already gotten numerous interviews and are both regarded as future NFL GMs.

In other words, the pool for Thompson’s eventual successor is deep and will remain so whether it contains Dorsey or not.

The main criticism of Thompson by those following the Packers is his slavish devotion to a build-through-the-draft philosophy and almost disdain for free agency.

While the best way to build a football team is always through the draft, most GMs believe you need to supplement aggressively through free agency when the championship window is open.

Arguably the window has been ajar in Titletown for the past quarter-century through the eras of back-to-back Hall of Fame QBs, Bret Favre and Rodgers.

As for Thompson’s watch, he has been criticized for not seizing the moment by some close to the organization and the rabbit ears might have taken 12 years to grow because Green Bay was far more active in free agency this offseason, bringing in tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, as well as Band-Aids at offensive guard (Jahri Evans) and defensive tackle (Ricky Jean Francois).

If the Packers do want Dorsey back, the easiest answer would be to bring him in as an assistant to Thompson with the caveat the former would take over whenever the latter decided to pull the plug.

That would need Thompson’s rubber stamp, however, because it remains his department and such a move would also likely speed up the departures of Wolf and Gutekunst, who would essentially be blocked from their ultimate goals despite being the ones who have been doing the heavy lifting in the building next to Thompson in recent years.

It’s a difficult decision but one that will not be broached until Thompson says so.

“I can’t tell you now who we would [hire] because we don’t know who that would be. We would have a process in place,” Murphy said. “It’s a [very impressive] tree, but it’s also I think our history is, we have success. I think it would be a very attractive job.”

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen.

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