Stable Packers embark on offseason of change with GM search
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — One of the NFL’s model franchises for stability and success, the Green Bay Packers have embarked on an offseason of change after missing the playoffs and finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2008.
Ted Thompson is out after 13 years as general manager, but will remain as senior adviser of football operations. President/CEO Mark Murphy announced the move on Tuesday.
The Packers’ Super Bowl victory in 2010 was the highlight of Thompson’s 13-year tenure.
“Under his guidance, the Packers enjoyed a remarkable run of success, one that included our 13th world championship, four NFC Championship appearances and eight consecutive postseason berths,” Murphy said. “The organization, our fans and our community were fortunate to have had one of the NFL’s all-time great general managers leading our football operations.”
“We will begin an immediate search for the next general manager of the Green Bay Packers,” Murphy added.
Green Bay lost its season finale 35-11 on Sunday to the Detroit Lions, slipping below .500 in a season in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed nine games with a collarbone injury.
The offense struggled with backup Brett Hundley, and a defense stocked with high draft picks failed to improve again.
“This is a special place and we’ve had some success along the way, but it’s the relationships that I value most,” Thompson said. “This is the players’ game and I appreciate all the sacrifices they have made for the Packers. I look forward to supporting this team in my new role as we strive to win another championship.”
Several players spoke about the transition as they cleaned out their lockers on Tuesday after a team meeting.
“It is a little uncharted territory for us. It’s going to be different, we’re going to have some different voices, some different faces in here,” said kicker Mason Crosby, one of the team’s longest-tenured players. “Ted Thompson with his transition through my 11 years here, it’s always hard to see people leave.”
Thompson took over on Jan. 14, 2005, and selected Rodgers in the first round of the draft that year. He hired Mike McCarthy as head coach the following year, and the Packers won six NFC North titles under his watch.
“It’s tough to see him step down. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him, taking a shot on me coming out as a free agent meant a little more,” said guard Lane Taylor, a fifth-year player who rose from undrafted free agent to starter.
But standards are high in a city nicknamed “Titletown.” The Packers are the only publicly-owned team in the NFL and play in the league’s smallest market, about a two-hour drive north from Milwaukee.
Thompson has long been a target for some restless fans eager for the club to take a more aggressive approach in free agency.
A defense plagued by injuries at cornerback had some moments trying to adjust to the loss of Rodgers on the other side of the ball. But production slacked off toward the end of the season.
Green Bay lacked a consistent pass rush and didn’t force a turnover over the season’s final three weeks. No personnel changes were announced, but players suggested veteran defensive coordinator Dom Capers is out.
“Shocked. But I think he did a lot of good things here. I’m hoping for the best. He’s been good to us,” linebacker Nick Perry said.
Green Bay, which finished 22nd in total defense for a second consecutive year, used its top draft pick in each of the past six seasons on defensive players. The Packers were 15th in defense in both 2014 and 2015.
“But I owe a lot of respect to all those men, from just Ted to Dom,” safety Morgan Burnett said.
“Those guys made a way for us to come in and do what we do here. So it’s a lot of respect, but it’s tough to see them leave like that.”
NOTE: WR Davante Adams said he has been cleared from the concussion protocol after missing the final two games of the season. He was knocked out of the Week 15 loss at Carolina following a hard hit from Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. It was Adams’ second concussion this season. “It’s more mental and upset that I couldn’t play in the game to be there for my teammates. But definitely not worried about my health long term,” Adams said.