Who is most responsible for the recent run of success in Green Bay? Aaron Rodgers would be my pick by a long shot, but reasonable minds in Green Bay could debate that it all starts with general manager Ted Thompson.
CEO Mark Murphy, for one, believes Thompson is the key factor. On Wednesday, the team showed it with a multiyear contract extension.
"I'm pleased that we were able to enter into this contract extension with Ted," Murphy said. "His outstanding work has been the key factor in the success that we've enjoyed in recent years."
There were open questions about Thompson's future earlier this offseason. The Packers wanted to keep him in place as long as possible, but there was some speculation that Thompson could consider retirement. He shot that down publicly back in May and Murphy subsequently made it clear that Thompson's new deal was a priority. Coach Mike McCarthy figures to be next in line for a long-term deal.
"The more you think about it, you don't want to walk away from something like this," Thompson said Wednesday via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "I've got a lot of good friends here and co-workers that I enjoy coming to work with every day. ... To get a chance to continue to do this, when you put all the chips on the table, it's no choice. I want to be here."
Thompson drafted Rodgers when no one thought it made sense, and ended the Brett Favre era as well as possible. Few general managers have found more value out of the mid-to-late rounds than Thompson. (Just look at this draft database from Chris Wesseling.) As Donald Driver and Greg Jennings were getting older, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were in place to step up. Now Jarrett Boykin and Davante Adams are next in line.
Thompson has been famously averse to making moves in free agency, with Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett and Julius Peppers as notable exceptions. Thompson has certainly made his share of draft mistakes in the first round. But overall the Packers have built up one of the deeper rosters in the league. They can survive injuries, and they have often had to.
Stability is what every NFL team is seeking. With Thompson staying aboard, the Packers should expect to remain title contenders. They have the right general manager in place to avoid wasting Rodgers' prime.