GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Packers decided to stay within the Ron Wolf scouting tree for their next general manager, but it’s not his son, Eliot. Instead, the more experienced Brian Gutekunst was promoted to replace Ted Thompson.
Gutekunst will receive a five-year contract, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Gutekunst was set to interview for the Texans’ general manager vacancy Sunday. The Houston Chronicle first reported the news of the Packers’ decision to hire Gutekunst as GM.
The 44-year-old had been the Packers’ director of player personnel since 2016. He joined the Packers in 1998, when he was hired as an area scout by Wolf, the Hall of Fame general manager, and served in that role for 13 years. Previous to his last promotion, he was the director of college scouting from 2012 to ’15.
Packers president Mark Murphy picked Gutekunst over the younger Wolf, 35, and another in-house candidate, Russ Ball (the team’s vice president of football operations/player finance), and former Bills GM Doug Whaley.
Had the Packers hired Ball, they would have broken from the Wolf scouting tree by hiring a GM without a background in player personnel and talent evaluation. According to multiple sources, Ball had taken on a larger role in that area over the last two years as Thompson, 64, cut back on his duties in part because of his age and his health.
The Packers also contacted two of their former scouts who are current GMs — John Schneider (Seattle) and Reggie McKenzie (Oakland). They were denied permission to interview Schneider, while McKenzie declined.
The Packers risked losing Gutekunst and Wolf if they hired Ball. It’s still possible Wolf will leave the organization. They also already lost senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith to the Browns last week, and it’s possible Wolf would join him to work under former Packers personnel executive John Dorsey.
The Packers would like to retain Ball in a high-level position.
While there could be turnover in the scouting department, this should stabilize the coaching situation. According to a source, coach Mike McCarthy is comfortable working with Gutekunst. McCarthy is under contract through the 2019 season after he signed a one-year extension late this season.